Howell: Reserve Half of Budget Surplus for Transportation

House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, has pledged to commit at least 50 percent of the anticipated $475-550 million, biennial budget surplus to transportation projects. He also said that he would submit a package of proposals, crafted by a special subcommittee set up after the September transportation special session, to align transportation and land use.

Additionally, the Speaker said the House will introduce legislation “designed to reduce congestion and chokepoints on our roadways, and give hard-pressed localities the tools they need now to manage growth.”

Read the Speaker’s press release here.

I will withhold comment on the House legislative package until I see the details. Agree or disagree with the House reforms, however, no one can deny that they aren’t meaty and ambitious. I will do my best to cover the substance of the debate as it unfolds.

As an aside, I will track the Mainstream Media commentary, which I anticipate will continue to follow the meta-narrative defining the transportation crisis as a purely fiscal phenomenon, as if no other institutional reforms were needed. Maybe one day the capital press corps will be shamed into covering the debate in all its many facets.

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4 responses to “Howell: Reserve Half of Budget Surplus for Transportation”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    And many pigs will swoop low over the James on that same day.

  2. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    The HD guys are going to proffer ….. 250 million dollars statewide on a one-time basis with future monies determined by whether or not there is a surplus….

    and… oh yeah.. they’re going to submit legislation “designed to reduce congestion and chokepoints on our roadways, and give hard-pressed localities the tools they need now to manage growth.”

    In terms of responding to the publics expectations … this leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    It’s mostly non-specific with regard to the non-money issues and from a money perspective for new infrastructure – it’s going to be seen as ludicrous by many.

    The Wilson Bridge – about a billion of state money… Springfield Interchange – 700 million, 3rd crossing in HR – who knows.

    $250 million divided up over 100 counties and 30 cities?

    THIS is THE House Strategy?

    As bad as Kaine’s fundamental premise is – “more money” – Howell’s proposal in my view is woefully insufficient to resonate with NoVa and HD voters and if Kaine and company are “on message” – who will the voters choose?

    I’m thinking that without more specifics from the HD.. they have no choice but to go with Kaine.

    Of course if I knew SQUAT … I’m not be sitting here in the back bedroom typing this to start with. 🙂

  3. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Kaine and VDOT surrogates are starting to weigh in on the pro-tax side….as demonstrated by this letter to the editor of the Fredericksburg-based Free Lance Star :

    “I would like to emphasize that by state law, the state has primary responsibility for funding, building, and maintaining our roads.Local jurisdictions do not have the necessary taxing authority to take on that responsibility.

    The General Assembly has not fulfilled its responsibility over the past eight years. The result is a growing list of unfunded needs. We need at least $2 billion per year more than what will come from existing dedicated sources for each of the next 20 years to deal with this backlog.

    House Speaker Bill Howell and Del. Mark Cole have been major obstructionists to creating more dedicated funding on a continuing annual basis.

    It is time for members of the Stafford Board of Supervisors and county residents to go beyond “lobbying” and demand major efforts by our representatives to address these transportation funding shortfalls during the 2007 session of the General Assembly.

    We should make it very clear that we will do our best to replace them in the 2007 fall election if they fail to do so.

    Longevity and leadership positions are irrelevant when they don’t result in favorable actions to address the county’s needs.

    I cannot think of a significant action to further Stafford’s interests by either Howell or Cole over the past four years.

    May I suggest that we use the slogan “Show me the money” when we discuss these issues with our delegates?

    Zeke Newcomb”

    Letter-writing Newcomb is an ex member of the CTB and a strong and reliable supporter of VDOT and it’s taxpayer-funded road-building approach to Transportation Planning.

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    Mr. Newcomb could easily write editorials for the Washington Post. I did a quick Google search for him. He seems to be quite comfortable speaking solely in conclusions and avoiding real issues. Higher taxes and more blacktop and concrete will fix it all. Who is paying him?

    And Donald Graham continues to ponder why circulation is down. Maybe he should hire Mr. Newcomb. That would fix things.

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