Has NoVa Finally Woken Up?

VA-10.  State Senator Jennifer Wexton (D) hopes to unseat Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R) in Virginia’s 10th Congressional District.  A typically gerrymandered Virginia district, the 10th stretches from inside the Capital Beltway to well west of Winchester.  As a resident of the 10th I watch the elections in that district closely.  This one is shaping up to be a doozy.  Far left Jennifer Wexton is running on an anti-Trump platform while trying to avoid taking a position on any issue relevant to the constituents she hopes to represent.  Meanwhile, Barbara Comstock is running as an embarrassed Republican who tries to avoid gazing east at the current occupant of the Oval Office.  Think Nelson Rockafeller in drag.  All in all I think Barbara Comstock has done a better job of explaining herself and focusing on issues that are relevant to her district.  One issue in particular stands out for me – the allegation that Wexton has sold out Northern Virginia during her time in the General Assembly.

Don’t get Wexton’ed.  Recent negative ads run by the National Republican Congressional Committee (presumably) on behalf of Barbara Comstock hit a point that hasn’t been hit before.  The ads call out Jennifer Wexton for her role in the General Assembly’s massive rip off of Northern Virginia.  The 30 second ads are punchy and direct.  One ad has a graphic that shows money raining out of NoVa into Richmond.  It cites high tolls and NoVa – only taxes.  Needless to say, Jennifer Wexton is the highlighted villain.  Another ad shows traffic jams and tolls in NoVa then cuts to a single car effortlessly driving down an otherwise empty road claiming, “The rest of the state rides for free.”  As far as I’m concerned, the ads are completely on target and finally call out the gutless NoVa politicians we have elected for selling out their constituents.

I wish I could drive I295.  For many people from Northern Virginia there certainly seems to be a vast sucking sound coming from the General Assembly in Richmond.  There also seems to be a two class system when it comes to a lot of things including transportation.  Take Richmond for example … the city, not the state government.  The OMB defines the greater Richmond area as comprising thirteen counties, including the principal cities of Richmond, Petersburg, Hopewell, and Colonial Heights. As of 2016, it had a population of 1,263,617.  Somehow, this qualifies the area for a 4 lane “beltway” called I295.  Meanwhile, the greater Washington area has a population of 6.1m as of 2016.  It also has a 4 lane beltway in NoVa.  An area with 4.7 times the population of Richmond somehow ends up with the same sized highway encircling it as Richmond gets?  And Jennifer Wexton thinks that’s all fine and dandy?  Comstock’s right – let’s not get Wexton’ed.

Thanks, Barbara.  Jennifer Wexton is hardly alone in selling out her constituents.  All 140 seats in the Virginia General Assembly are up for election in 2019 including every state politician claiming to represent Northern Virginia.  It’s high time that all of NoVa’s politicians are taken to task for selling out their constituents.  Hopefully these ads and others like them will continue to haunt the comfy re-election dreams of our political class in Northern Virginia.  If our politicians want to argue about their role in grifting NoVa the approach is easy … clearly and quantitatively document the amount of money taken by state and local government in NoVa and compare it to the amount of money spent by state and local government in NoVa.  Then … defend the difference.  I happen to know that a number of General Assembly members from NoVa read this blog (at least occasionally).  Any of you who read this – are you up for the challenge of demonstrating the fairness of your actions vis-a-vis inflows and outflows of money from NoVa?  I won’t hold my breath.

— Don Rippert

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24 responses to “Has NoVa Finally Woken Up?

  1. If you want to make the case that NoVa is a piggybank for the Rest of Virginia, you should focus on the school funding formula, enacted during the Wilder administration, which was designed explicitly to redistribute wealth from wealthy localities to poor localities — in effect, from metropolitan areas to non-metro areas, with NoVa as the richest metropolitan area transferring the most money.

    Richmond may have better transportation infrastructure, but the last time the General Assembly showered money on the region was for the construction of Rt. 288 about 20 years ago. Since then, the region has gotten very little in the way of special treatment, even as NoVa has received funding for Metro and numerous megaprojects, some of which has been paid for with regional taxes but a lot of which was not.

    It might be interesting to take a look at who, from a regional perspective, pays for and who benefits from support for higher education, Medicaid, corrections, and other programs. I expect you’ll see wealth transfers from NoVa in those areas as well. But then you’ll run into the problem that most NoVa representatives are liberals, and liberals support wealth transfers from the affluent to the poor.

    Still, I support your call for a study that documents inter-regional transfers of wealth. The more we know the better. A lot of inaccurate perceptions (even mine!) might get debunked. Let the chips fall where they may.

    • Wow. You really struggle with the concept there Comrade. I don’t give a rat’s ass that Richmond hasn’t been showered with money in the last 20 years. I don’t give a rat’s ass about Metro or extra-regional funding. My very strong suspicion is that NoVa represents a large minority of Virginians but supplies a majority of the money required to keep this mis-managed state afloat. More importantly, for the first time I can remember, one NoVa politician is calling out another NoVa politician for selling out her constituents. In the past this was a quiet boys and girls club. The NoVa politicos all knew they were selling out their constituents but agreed to mumble something about “Dillon’s Rule” to excuse the sellout and distract the voters from their shameful behavior. I call this the “Saslaw Effect”. Maybe Comstock’s point is a one time attack. Maybe it’s a trend. I’m hoping it’s a trend.

      “Still, I support your call for a study that documents inter-regional transfers of wealth. The more we know the better. A lot of inaccurate perceptions (even mine!) might get debunked. Let the chips fall where they may.”

      Exactly. You flew the plane around awhile before landing it but, to your credit, you did land the plane.

  2. Well Give Comstock credit for finding and exploiting the “crease” – i.e. toll roads in Va! not that Comstock would actually do anything about it herself and in fact the GOP is talking about getting rid of the Federal Gas tax altogether and turning that over to the states to continue!

    But NoVa is not the only place in Virginia with tolls. Hampton roads is set up for tolls.. Richmond has two or three there has been discussions for I-95 south, US-460 and I-81.

    I don’t think tolls are going away -and remember the decision to put more tolls in NoVa and Hampton Roads came from the McDonnell administration!

    On the transfer of wealth – it’s not just for schools but that is the most prominent. It’s done that way for public safety as well as social services, TANF and Medicaid and it’s a normal and typical feature of most states that try to keep a level standard of those services statewide.

    Again – Ms. Comstock in her Federal role would have little to do with this – but it’s a clever strategy… although I suspect for the average person in NoVa they are probably more concerned with Comstocks love of Trump that is literally the kiss of death in blue voting areas.

    • Fine. I doubt that anybody in Hampton Roads has ever paid a $47 toll for a single trip but let the chips fall where they may. Look, if a fair analysis is done over the past 30 years and NoVa isn’t getting ripped off I’ll write a column on this blog apologizing profusely for my error in assumption. However, I’ll give 10 – 1 odds that if such an analysis were done I’d never have to write that blog entry.

  3. Trust me, Don, Nova and Rova were having these battles while Comstock and Wexton were picking out prom dresses. I’ve heard this whiny refrain since the 70s. I hear it from my brother who thinks my son who went to UVA must have taken the slot away from a smarter NOVA kid. Here in Ginter Park I’m living as far north in VA as I ever have, and probably ever will. The cricket with its fiddle grinds away in the background.

    • Trust me, if we have a more progressive income tax, rather than a basically flat 5-5.75 percent income tax rate, even more moolah would flow. Imagine a top 6.5 percent rate above $50K. Wow, what a bonanza for Rova! (Gotta find a patron.)

      • Demographics are destiny and the Richmond political elite is on the wrong side of destiny. I go to the gym and run everyday just so I can live long enough to witness the collapse of the Richmond elite in Virginia.

        Tick tock, Steve. Tick tock.

        Time to move the state capital to Charlottesville.

    • Yeah, yeah … classic Richmond elite logic. Things have always been that way. Therefore, they will never change. Past classics from that unique Richmond philosophy …

      1. We’ll plant tobacco in these fields until hell freezes over. Nothing will ever go wrong. Reality – the tobacco destroyed the soil and, eventually, everybody came to the conclusion that tobacco was a ridiculously deadly product that killed hundreds of millions (billions?). FAIL

      2. Slavery is the natural state of things. It’s God’s plan. It will always be that way. Reality – slavery was an abomination which was recognized by the rest of the world as such decades before the US Civil War (or … War of Northern Aggression as Richmond’s elite prefers). FAIL

      3. We’re gonna kick those Yankees’ asses . Reality – they kicked your asses from pillar to post. FAIL

      4. Segregation forever. It’s how the world should be. Separate but equal. Reality – Brown vs the Board of Education, Rosa Parks, equality for all. FAIL

      5. We’ll stay with Massive Resistance forever. Reality – the feds threatened to arrest the “brave souls” of Virginia’s white political elite and Massive Resistance thereafter quickly died the death it deserved. FAIL

      6. There will never be a stature of Arthur Ashe, he’s no more than a tennis player (and I am being extremely polite as to what Richmond’s elite were actually saying about Mr. Ashe). Reality – the only winner with a statue in Richmond and one of the few Richmonders with a statue in Richmond. FAIL

      7. We gonna amend the Virginia constitution to ban gay marriage. Reality – Supreme Court tells you to go to hell. FAIL

      8. NoVa will always be under the thumb of the Richmond elite. Reality – TBD

      Is the Richmond elite ever right about anything?

      What are those western counties going to do? Secede? Reality – Almost heaven, West Virginia. FAIL

      The list goes on.

  4. Yep… I just don’t see the RoVa robs NoVa decades-long complaint convincing NoVa folks to vote FOR Comstock but perhaps the theory is that if they apply that goo to her opponent that they’ll stay home.

    Every state has this rural vs urban, rich vs poor argument and every state pretty much uses it’s more prosperous areas to fund the less prosperous areas on basic services like education, public safety, and social services.

    It’s true the Dems don’t do anything about it – but neither does the GOP, in fact the GOP is claiming that RoVa is funding METRO and NoVa roads!

  5. As I’ve written many times, the guys and gals from RoVA aren’t NoVA’s problem. It’s the jackasses who go to Richmond and give away the store.

    I need to heed my wife’s call and start thinking seriously about the move to North Carolina. I cannot believe their metropolitan legislators are as bad as those from NoVA.

    • @TMT – the GOP owns Richmond guy. They’re the ones who proclaim they are opposed to taxing people unfairly – no?

      You’d think the GOP would be the ones to gut the Composite Index… right?

      Is that what Comstock is advocating and did she do that in Richmond when she was there – supported by GOP voters, no?

      Those “jackasses” are GOP guys and gals, right? they have had more than ample opportunity in Richmond to do their thing – they fail to do it then they blame the Dems…… 😉 but the goobers fall for it every time!

      • The RPV is a joke. The whole General Assembly is a clown show but the Republican members are a special breed of clown. John Wayne Gasey type clowns. Deluded, lying psychopaths.

        What needs to happen is for a NoVa splinter group of the Republicans or Democrats to form. A group that says “we’re not writing blank checks for the Richmond elite anymore”. Comstock fired the first volley. We’ll see if that volley has any legs.

      • Mark Warner’s tax increase passed only because NoVA delegates & senators voted for it. Bob McDonnell’s tax plan passed only because NoVA delegates and senators voted for it. Both plans screwed NoVA and the screwees are too stupid to understand it.

    • @TMT – I agree with you. NoVa is its own worst enemy. That’s why I was so happy to see one NoVa politician call out another NoVa politician as a sell out to the Richmond elite. About time.

  6. If there are some pols here, wonder if any of them are from Hampton Roads? I don’t see a lot of positives here, they certainly don’t listen or respond about 98% of the time regular people contact them.

  7. Besides the facts that Jennifer Wexton is not at all responsible for the controversial I-66 tolls and has vocally opposed those tolls on multiple occasions, the I-66 tolls ARE NOT A TAX. Rather, the tolls are a congestion-management tool that replaces the former, unpopular, and ineffective HOV restrictions that had been in effect ever since this segment of I-66 opened in 1982.

    Furthermore, most (>65%) of the people who travel on these tolled lanes–during peak commuting hours but now at freeway speeds–are in carpools or express buses and pay no tolls at all. For the most part, the I-66 tolls have been generally successful in permanently ending I-66 traffic congestion, moving more commuters through the corridor, not using taxpayer money for additional ineffective and destructive urban freeway widening, and establishing a virtuous cycle by reinvesting much of the toll revenue in multimodal transportation improvements along the corridor to benefit the toll payers.

    These NRCC anti-Wexton ads are the worst kind of false smear propaganda. Those deluded enough to believe them would vote Republican anyway.

    • What did Jennifer Wexton do about the tolls? Any senator can make it difficult for a Governor on another matter to get changes in the tolling plan. For example, she could have pushed VDOT to develop a plan for tolls to ensure a 45 mph speed that would have made the obscene tolls lower and still functioned as congestion pricing.

      Moreover, other roads in Fairfax County, Route 123 for example, is carrying much more traffic in the same direction that I-66 is being tolled. Those of us who live in Vienna or McLean are suffering from the results of the high tolls causing traffic rerouting. And most of the revenues from the tolling are being spent in Arlington and not in Fairfax and Loudoun Counties where the toll payers live.

      Weston has not done anything to benefit those people she wants to represent in Congress. We need more than Jenny in Pigtails to represent us in Congress.

    • With all due respect … you’ve lost your mind. Jennifer Wexton was (and is) a state senator who voted against her constituents again and again. From tax hikes to special taxes … Jennifer Wexton has never seen a reason not to like for people in NoVa to pay endlessly more more money for the things Virginians outside of NoVa get for free or, at least, for far less in taxation. She is a sell-out, pure and simple. And … a point I made so clearly that even a Liberal could understand it – show me the facts. You want to represent me … show me the facts. Where does the money come from, where is it spent? Why is this a hard question?

  8. I thought I remembered seeing some data on the great NoVa/RoVa transportation funding debate on here before so I looked back and found this. Seems to cast some doubt on the popular assumptions about who is being subsidized by whom. This is a bit dated though, so it would be interesting to see if things have changed at all.


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