Kilgore in Attack Mode

Tim Murtaugh, press secretary for Jerry Kilgore, has issued a press release attacking Tim Kaine for expressing his willingness to increase the gasoline tax to increase transportation funding, as long as there are mechanisms in place to protect the Transportation Trust Fund from being raided for other programs.

Said Murtaugh: “Both Jerry Kilgore and Tim Kaine agree that protecting the Transportation Trust Fund is the top priority in transportation improvements. Jerry Kilgore opposes an increase in the antiquated gas tax.”

Kaine’s positions on taxes are fair game. But does Kilgore have anything to offer to the transportation debate other than going on the attack? If Kilgore opposes raising the gasoline tax, is he willing to state categorically that he would refuse to raise any taxes for transportation? If he’s not willing to make such a vow, which tax would he prefer to raise? Please explain, Mr. Murtaugh, what makes the gas tax “antiquated”. It’s the closest thing there is to a user fee. Does Kilgore disagree with the idea that the people who benefit from additional transportation spending should be the ones to pay for it? Or has he articulated a new theory of governance in which those who don’t benefit from extra transportation funding should be forced to pay for it?

Does Kilgore offer any other solutions to the transportation crisis other than a vow to raise money — somewhere, anywhere, but just not through the gas tax — and build more roads? The press release contains not a clue. In all probability, Tim Kaine’s transportation policy is no better than Kilgore’s. But at least the lieutenant governor has the cajones to put his ideas on the table. I’m still waiting for Kilgore to artulate what he’s for.

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  1. Barnie Day Avatar

    In due time, my pretty, in due time. Good grief, give the kid a break! He’s got his hands full with Fitch and Potts and Willie Mae at the moment!

  2. Oh we already know what his plans are: a combination of abuser fees, borrowing, and car tax cuts.

  3. From the Kilgore and Kaine Roads-R-Us campaigns…

    FACT: Both Jerry Kilgore and Tim Kaine agree that protecting the Transportation Trust Fund is the top priority in transportation improvements. Jerry Kilgore opposes an increase in the antiquated gas tax.

    At the “Reconnecting Virginia” event last year, Lt. Gov. Kaine said he would not increase the gas tax as well. But both candidate have also loosely endorsed and advocated proposals for a state constitutional amendment for a lockbox with state transportation funding.

    But come on guys, exactly who are you kidding?

    It’s a fact: In past sessions, Gov. Mark Warner and the Republican Senate have not supported a constitutional amendment to secure the transportation trust fund.

    What’s going to change next year?$28795

  4. Btw, it took four tries for Kilgore’s press secretary, Tim Murtaugh to get it right.

    Per Murtaugh email, “Sorry for the confusion. Don’t know what happened to the file.”

    Confusion with the file? … err, what about the Kilgore transportation plan?

  5. Phil Rodokanakis Avatar
    Phil Rodokanakis

    Protecting the Transportation Trust Fund is one part of the problem. The other part is changing the allocation formula. You can have the strongest lockbox in place, but if they don’t allocate monies differently, you’ll still have major gridlock in NOVA while building coalfield express highways that carry no traffic.

    That’s why the gasoline tax is an antiquated tax. Building additional lane capacity through private/public partnerships, like HOTs, that are funded through tolls–paid for locally with no diversion of funding–is the only way to fix our transportation mess.

    But to propose something like this requires vision–a sorely lacking commodity in the Kilgore camp. So it’s easier to attack Kaine while offering no real solutions to address the problem.

    And while the Kilgore spokesmen speak out against the gasoline tax, what about speaking out against Sen. John Chichester’s stated intentions to raise taxes next year in order to fund transportation?

    When Democrats talk about raising the gasoline tax, that’s bad. But when Senate Republican openly discuss the same idea, Kilgore looks the other way and quietly disappears in the background…

  6. The gas tax may be antiquated, but its the way we pay for transportation (along with a 1/2 cent of the sales tax and a few other small sources). So if we get rid of it or allow it to continue to be weakened by inflation, we need to replace it with another source of revenue.

    I agree that toying funding mechanisms could render a lockbox useless. But the constitutional amendment that the House passed seemed to take care of that problem.

    As for tolls: same problem. Most people support tolls to pay for projects, but we don’t trust lawmakers to remove the toll when the bonds are retired.

    Personally…I like the gas tax because at least it acts to discourage driving and pollution…if you’re going to have a tax, might as well be one that has positive side effects.

  7. Baron Violent Avatar
    Baron Violent

    The main problem with gas taxes, and why they end so inadequate and are distortionary as a user fee, is that trucks (by that I mean the 18-wheelers), do 100s of times more damage than a car. They basically get a form of a tax break because they wear out (thus depreciate and “use”) the roads way more than any car or even SUV could.

    Also, Kilgore has general problems advocating a sound fiscal position, mostly because he was embarassed so thoroughly in the budget issues last year when the Virginia GOP split in half. He’s too close ideologically in the anti-tax Grover Norquist crowd to really think up how to finance a fix to the transportation crisis.

  8. Bob Griendling Avatar
    Bob Griendling

    “Building additional lane capacity through private/public partnerships, like HOTs, that are funded through tolls–paid for locally with no diversion of funding–is the only way to fix our transportation mess.”???

    That may fix congestion on the Beltway (though I doubt it and there is no credible evidence that it would), but what are you going to do about major arteries that aren’t limited access? Tolls can’t be the “only way to fix our transportation mess.”

  9. E M Risse Avatar

    To All:

    Please keep firmly in mind that the only way to reduce congestion is to rationalize the distribution of trip origins and destinations and match them with the capacity of the transport system.

    That means a Fundamental Change in human settlement patterns.

    The way to do that is to fairly allocate the cost of total cost of all location-variable costs, especially transport costs. User fees tied to time and distance of travel demand are an important first step.

    Building more transport facilities without Fundamental Change in settlement patterns only makes the distribution of travel demand more irrational and therefore creates more congestion.


  10. Will Vehrs Avatar

    E.M., I have this vision of McMansion developments beyond the Beltway declared internment areas, with residents being force marched to Starbucks for their lattes so as to keep them off the highways.

    I may be guilty of not having read your Fundamental Change prescription closely enough, but just briefly–does it have to be all or nothing, some sweeping edict or law, or are there discrete steps that we take to get there? Is there a HBXXXX that needs to be introduced? What would it say?

  11. My guess would be that tolls are a good start. They seem like the best way to punish people for living too far from their place of work.

  12. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Back to an earlier point by Mr. Proliferation. Yes, you are right, gas taxes are “unfair” in that they undertax trucks, which cause far more damage to roads than do cars. The solution is really quite simple: Raise taxes on trucks until the revenue offsets the wear and tear they cause on roads.

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