It Looks Like a Deal

Quote of the day from Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (as published in the Washington Post):

“This isn’t a perfect bill. It wasn’t perfect when I got it, and it’s still not perfect. The speaker and I finished a phone call just a few minutes before I came in here, where we were both trying to earn sympathy from the other one by telling each other what we still didn’t like about it. But it is a deal that I can very sincerely say is significantly improved.”

There’s a lot not to like in the transportation package passed by the General Assembly and amended by the Governor, but there’s enough in it for the major players in Richmond that the odds are very favorable that it will win final approval.

As House Speaker William J. Howell put it in a prepared statement issued late yesterday:

The Governor’s decision to stay within the structure of the legislation – eschewing his previous positions to insist upon massive statewide tax increases without regional components – is a very positive development. The fact that, for the first time, he has demonstrated a commitment to a judicious use of the Commonwealth’s AAA bond rating is certainly welcome news to those of us who have advocated this reasonable and widely accepted approach for many years.

Kaine tweaked the regional-funding components of HB 3202 for Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads sufficiently to bring local government officials on board, appeasing a major constituency that had opposed the original version.

Christina Nuckols with the Virginian-Pilot addressed an interesting angle that I obliquely touched upon in yesterday’s post when noting Kaine’s apparent back-pedaling on spending the General Fund surplus and issuing long-term bonds to fund transportation projects. Did he pull the rug out from General Assembly Democrats who’d been hitting those issues hard in recent months? Writes Nuckols:

Democrats were startled by Kaine’s decision to compromise after he had told them in a morning telephone conference that he would fight to defeat any diversion of money to roads.

“Less than two hours later, they called me back and said he’d changed his mind for some reason,” said Del. Lionell Spruill Sr., D-Chesapeake. “He gave in.”

Even so, Democratic leaders said they may be forced to back Kaine and accept the deal.

It will be interesting to see how the Home Builders Association of Virginia responds to Kaine’s amendment that would expand the scope of impact fees in fast-growth counties. Otherwise, no major constituency has yet surfaced in vocal opposition to the amended transportation package. Although Republicans reserve the right to withhold their judgment regarding Kaine’s amendments until they have a chance to study them, it’s inconceivable that they would punt the legislation this close to the goal line.

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3 responses to “It Looks Like a Deal”

  1. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    revealing more of my own ignorance…

    WHERE in Va Law and/or constitution does it say that gasoline taxes are irrevocably dedicated to be spent on nothing by transportation?

    The reason for the question has to do with Kaine “changing his mind” on use of the General Revenue funds.

    So .. what is to keep Kaine or the GA from deciding that a particular revenue stream in the General Fund will be … re-targetted as dedicated transportation funding?

    In other words – is the “general” concept basically a concept?

    Revenue streams that are not specifically dedicated to some purpose are, by definition – General.

    Following this logic – wouldn’t it be justifiable that ANY revenue that accrues as a result of any activities connected to vehicles – could logically be dedicated for transportation.

    Not only gasoline, but insurance, tires, motor oil, car washes, repairs, etc – all of it derived from vehicles and all of it dedicated to transportation.

    so.. it appears.. that one way of looking at what Kaine did – was perhaps not to change his mind as much as his attitude about the concept and much easier to rationalize as not so much a diversion from the general revenues as much as capturing a revenue stream that should have been all along….

    anybody buy this logic? 🙂

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    “It will be interesting to see how the Home Builders Association of Virginia responds to Kaine’s amendment that would expand the scope of impact fees in fast-growth counties.”

    Housing is dead for now so they will let it slide.

    Once things pick back up you can expect that to change.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    It is still somewhat an open question whether the localities can be hornswaggled into passing this amazing list of taxes at the local level, and absent that this is a whole lot of nothing with all legislators ducking any blame.

    I think Kaine did the political math and decided that his veto was exactly what the Republicans wanted. This way, at least if it falls apart at the local level, he can’t be handed the lions share of blame. Just what the line of attack in November is going to be, however, is now quite unclear. Kaine will be stumping the state, asking him to give him a Democratic majority, to do what? Pre-K? Low risk, low reward.

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