The House Hits Back: Kaine Proposals Too Little, Too Late

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine’s proposal to steer $500 million in General Fund surplus revenues into transportation projects is too little and too late, charged the Republican leadership of the House of Delegates. (Read the House press release here.)

Too little: The Governor proposed dedicating only $161 million of the anticipated $475-$550 million surplus — about one third — as opposed to the House recommendation for at least one half, or $250 million. Added House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford: “It is especially disappointing that the Governor attempted to characterize the $339 million already designated by the General Assembly for transportation as new funding.”

Too late: Said Del. Leo Wardrup, R-Virginia Beach, chairman of the House transportation committee: “We could already have started most of these projects if the Governor and his allies hadn’t obstructed our efforts to fund them earlier this year. Now, these projects are likely to cost more and won’t be finished as soon.”

Wardrup reiterated the House call for using the state’s ample bonding capacity to borrow funds to accelerate road construction. He offered a new justification for borrowing money, which Democrats had derided as putting state bills on a credit card. The bonding initiative, which would allow the state to build projects now, would provide a “hedge” against inflationary cost increases.

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4 responses to “The House Hits Back: Kaine Proposals Too Little, Too Late”

  1. We hear a lot here about having the new people pay for the infrastructure they require. Using bonds is one way to do that.

    How many of the roads we use today were built with money borrowed in the past?

  2. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I would agree about using bonds if we could insure that they are true investments that will solve problems.

    There IS a limit on how much can be borrowed. Right now.. what we have is a gigantic wish list of road projects that are not ranked or prioritized.

    We can borrow enough to build them all.

    So what process do we use to figure out which ones should be built with bonds?

    Until we can answer that question – borrowing road money with bonds is, in my view, an open invitation for us to convert our current failed system into one that will be even worse…. squandering debt for questionable projects – depleting our future ability to borrow for legitimate needs.

    Then we really WILL be in trouble because not only will we be broke but we won’t be able to borrow either.

    In WaPo this morning….. “But Kaine’s proposals are likely to become entangled in an ongoing debate over how to fund the state’s staggering transportation needs, estimated at $17 billion in Northern Virginia alone.”

    Should we borrow 17 Billion dollars for NoVa to build their entire wish list? If we did, how much would the per-capita share of that debt be?

    How many folks live in NoVa? Maybe 2.5 million? .. that works out to about 7K per capita. If you borrowed that for 30 years… the annual amount of money needed to repay would be about $500 per capita – which would require a gas tax increase in excess of 40 cents.

    AND.. it would not include future projects not yet defined.

    I think most folks would consider doing this not feasible financially so the key question is the one I first asked – what SUBSET would be determined the be the most cost effective and affordable to fund with bonds?

    We don’t have a process. What we have is a wishlist.. and I would submit that as long as road advocates refuse to rank and prioritize projects that they are really not serious about a cogent process and instead just want a slush fund to allocate by political process.

    This is exactly what happened in the 2002 Transportation Referenda where the question on the ballot was essentially phrased this way: the following projects “COULD” be funded depending on what VDOT decides to do with the money.

    A better phrasing would be: “Give us the money” “We refuse to be accountable for how we spend it”

  3. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: “We can borrow enough to build them all.”

    correction: “WE CANNOT”….

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    The House of Delegate GOP caucus decided before this session they would not give
    the Senate and the Governor a budget victory similar to what they achieved in the
    2004 session for they will not make another national star such they think they did
    with former Gov. Mark Warner and GOP State Sen. John Chichester.

    Gov. Tim Kaine could pronounce the sun will rise in the morning and the right wing
    nuts in the House would say that it not the case. Their sniping about the governor’s
    budget proposal is simplistic politics at best.

    It is going to take some hard cash to solve the many problems we have around the state,
    such as the bottleneck in Falmouth near House Speaker William J. Howell’s, R-Stafford
    County, office. Rescue vehicles have to cross the bridge there making their way to the
    hospital going against traffic in the wrong lane.

    You guys need to quit treating Howell and company with kid gloves. They are a real problem
    for us.

    We will never solve our growth and transportation problems that are linked to our continued
    job growth, need for new workers, putting more demand on our transportation system and need
    for more housing with their foolish, political approach to these issues.

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