The Latest Monkey Business in the Transportation Debates

Round and round the transportation debate goes. Where it will end up, nobody knows.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine advanced a novel argument in favor of his $1 billion-a-year package of tax increases at a transportation conference in Goochland County yesterday. Increases in statewide revenue sources are needed, he argued, to address the intensifying inadequacy of gasoline tax revenues, which are being increasingly consumed by maintenance and repairs. He rejected Republican proposals to revivify regional transportation authorities and taxes, contending, as the Times-Dispatch writes, that statewide lawmakers can’t “put it on the shoulders of the poor schlubs in local government to pass taxes” that the General Assembly should have the political courage to enact itself.

That’s an interesting turn-around for a governor who campaigned — and governed, initially — on the premise that transportation and land use decisions needed to be made in concert. The Republican proposals for creating regional transportation authorities are loaded with flaws. But they do have one advantage: They put transportation decision-making closer to the level of government where land use decisions are made. Gov. Kaine appears to find it preferable for state lawmakers, who are distant from land use decisions, to show courage, over municipal leaders, who make the land use decisions that directly affect the need for transportation improvements, doing so. Hmmm…

Meanwhile, Republicans are fumbling toward a response to Kaine’s challenge that they need to be “problem solvers” rather than “problem avoiders.” Later yesterday, in the General Assembly building, leaders of the Elephant Clan spotlighted public-private arrangements during a hearing heavily attended by lobbyists for transportation and construction firms as well as industries affected by Kaine’s proposed taxes, including automobile dealers.

A fix for transportation should include a bigger role for private business, the R’s argued, including multibillion-dollar lease-and-maintenance deals for highways, bridges and tunnels. States such as Indiana, Texas and Pennsylvania have enacted or are considering such plans, noted Jim Noland and Jeff Schapiro with the T-D.

Here’s what the Republicans haven’t thought through: Privatization can be a useful tool in particular situations, but it’s not a cure-all. As applied in Pennsylvania (See “Pennsylvania Goes Over to the Dark Side in Transportation Deal,”) privatization can become a tool for engineering massive transfers of wealth, not for nudging the system towards “user pays” financing.

Privatizing (or long-term leasing) roads makes sense when it enables a financially strapped state to make needed transportation improvements that would not get made otherwise. Building HOT lanes on Interstate 495 is a good example. However, privatizing roads is a tragedy in the case of Pennsylvania, where it looks like a mechanism for the inter-regional transfer of money from drivers on the Pennsylvania Turnpike to transportation projects across the state.

Taxpayers are rightfully distrustful of both Kaine and the Republicans at this stage of the debate. With neither set of proposals would taxpayers be protected from politicians dispensing with the largesst to the benefit of favored special interests. At least with Kaine’s schema, the Transportation Trust Fund has a formula that allocates revenues between regions with a modicum of fairness. There are no such assurances if the General Assembly succeeded in privatizing major highways a la Pennsylvania Turnpike. The money would end up wherever the most powerful members of the General Assembly agreed to spend it.

On the other hand, Kaine has pretty well painted himself into a corner. He cannot easily change his position. The Republicans, by contrast, have an opportunity to clarify their ideas — indicating specific highway assets they would propose privatizing and spelling out exactly how they would spend the money. If they are guided by user-pays principles, voters will see the fairness in what they propose. If they simply devise schemes for enriching investment bankers and institutional investors, they will end up hanging themselves.

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  1. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    on the maintenance issue –

    The R’s can say that Kaine is overestimating the size and/or immediacy of the problem but I don’t see how they can deny the problem itself and not offer their own plan – for maintenance.

    It appears that there view is that the problem is something that can be handled as the general budget level just by allocating more money to maintenance but this belies either a fundamental misunderstanding on their part or a willful evasion of responsibility depending on one’s point of view.

    The gas tax and the 1/2% of the sales tax are the non-general-revenue, transportation monies – you know – the fabled “lock box” and those two taxes are not generating enough increased funds to keep up with the increased costs of maintenance.

    “Fixing” this problem by reallocating General Revenues really means taking money away from other currently funded functions …which the R’s had the opportunity to do at the regular GA but it also means that if the funding is not dedicated that every year the amount of new money that will be needed for maintenance will be debated.

    In other words, there appears to be no plan to deal with the structural problem itself.

    In my mind, this perception seriously erodes the Republican’s position of fiscal conservatism.

    It’s one thing to be opposed to wasting money but it’s another to simply deny obvious realities….

    and if they can’t get this part ‘right’ – then how much credibility do they have for the really tough choices?

    Kaine and his advisors are basically stepping back and letting the Republicans expose themselves on this… IMHO….

  2. Responding to Tim Kaine’s “the intensifying inadequacy of gasoline tax revenues”

    We know that the gas tax revenues are up, so there’s nothing intensifying. Here’s a revised version of the net revenue numbers cobbled together from various state sources. They show more money is collected at the state/federal level than is spent at the state level on roads. The Fairfax County budget, even with the state transfer, likewise shows a drivers pay more than they get. There is a lot of complex and phony accounting going on, so this comes with no warranty on accuracy.

    $?,??? federal gas & trucker taxes, etc.
    $?,??? personal property tax (local only)
    $912m gas tax
    $560m vehicle sales tax
    $216m Vehicle Licensing
    $173m Speeding tickets
    $111m Car insurance tax
    $104m Interest earned on funds
    $82m Tolls
    $75m Trucker taxes
    $38m NOVA 2% gas tax
    $8m VDOT fines
    $6m Property damage collections
    $1.3m highway advertising space

    $323m from state to localities
    $119m diverted out of “maintenance” into mass transit*
    $1.3b from fed gas tax to state

    State $2.3b + $1.3b fed = $3.6b total

    Construction, Maintenance: $2.6b + Debt, Admin, Earmark: $1.3 – $450m transfers = $3.5b total.

    So at least $3.6b is paid by drivers in state/federal driving taxes, but the state only spends $3.5b on highway maintenance and construction (including debt financing, administration and general waste). I’m assuming the federal tax grab is $1.3b. Whatever the case, it’s going to be pretty close.

    Of course, if anyone doubts these numbers, please ask your favorite lawmaker to order an audit of the state accounts. I’m sure the legislature will be most happy to provide full disclosure about what they are doing…

    * E.g., one of the transit gimmicks is a thing called Transportation Partnership Opportunity Fund, which is under the maintenance budget but it shuffles a chunk of money to transit.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    “A fix for transportation should include a bigger role for private business, the R’s argued, including multibillion-dollar lease-and-maintenance deals for highways, bridges and tunnels.”

    If I didn’t know anything about this, and I wasn’t already opposed, then that single sentence would kill it for me.


  4. Anonymous Avatar

    “A jurisdictional restriction that prohibits Virginia-based versus Washington and Maryland-based taxicab companies from picking up passengers on their empty return trips to and from Dulles and Reagan National airports also needlessly adds millions of additional trips to congested roads.”


    Now there’s an easy fix that saves money and pollution and doesn’t cost a dime.

  5. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Perfect, Bob!

    I think the Republicans ought to hire you to prepare their response to Kaine!


    gas tax revenues were not up in April:

    “Motor Fuels Tax collections declined by 0.1 percent in April. Annual collections through the first ten months of fiscal year 2008 are up 2.4 percent.”

    but Bob does make some pretty good points about the many different sources of money…

    and here’s an example”

    “Motor vehicle registration fee collections increased by 44.1 percent in April. Collections of $21.7 million include $6.6 million attributable to the motor vehicle license fee increase. Adjusting for the registration fee increase, this month’s collections were up 0.4 percent from last year.”

    But here’s where Bob veers off course.

    Most of the “diversions” he alludes to are done at the local level – by none other than the same folks who say that the State has shorted them transportation money.

    The question is – should places like Fairfax spend car tax money on transportation only?

    And if they do, then what happens to what WAS being funded by that money – and we all know that it is spent on Education.

    So then Fairfax would have to do what? Either Education takes the hit or property taxes get raised to compensate….

    which path gets the BOS thrown out of office?

    So then .. what is Bob’s solution here…

    What is he advocating that Republicans do to counter Kaine?

    You can do the full and transparent accounting – which I would support 1000% but then ..beyond that – what does that translate into that the Republicans put on the table as a competitive alternative to Kaine’s approach?

    Is it something simple – like a new law that says that every tax on autos – no matter whether it is at the State or Local level MUST go into the Transportation Lock Box and is, by law, restricted to ONLY be spent on infrastructure for cars?

    So.. then the Republicans would total up all this money and say that re-directing this money is the answer to the Transportation Funding issue?

    Stop the Presses! Call Bill Howell. We have a winner!

    Seriously.. is this the idea, Bob?

  6. Anonymous Avatar

    Virginia’s average commute time to work in 2006 was 26.9 minutes, the sixth highest in the nation. While higher than North Carolina (23.4 minutes) and Tennessee (23.5 minutes), the average time is slightly lower than Maryland’s 30.6 minutes. The national average is 25 minutes. North Dakota had the least traffic delays of all states with an average commute time of 15.5 minutes.

    Lane-mile use has increased over time; since the mid-1960s Virginia has experienced a decline in both lane-miles relative to population and lane-miles relative to state gross domestic product (GSP). Locally, the U.S. Census measured average commute time for 27 of Virginia’s larger counties and cities in 2006. The highest average commute times were all in the Northern region with Prince William County (39.5 minutes) and Stafford County (39.2 minutes) leading the way. Lynchburg City (16.3 minutes) in the West Central region had the lowest commute time among the localities measured in the state.

    Now, Larry keeps harping on all the people that drive an hour each way or more. If the average for NOVA is 35 minutes (figuring PG to be higher than average) anybody want to calculate the percentage that are driving an hour or more?


  7. Anonymous Avatar

    Norther Virginia has about a third of the states population. If they pay one third of all those other fees (except the NOVA sales tax) then the addition of the sales tax means NOVA is paying a 5% tax premium over the rest of the state.

    In exchange for this, they get commuting time that is 30% longer.

    Sounds pretty fair to me.


  8. Anonymous Avatar

    “The question is – should places like Fairfax spend car tax money on transportation only?”

    I assume you mean spend on car transportation only.

    No, I don’t think so. Transportation is transportation, but we should spend it wisely. And, we should drop and bury forever the (false) argument that cars aren’t paying their way. Auto drivers pay their way, and much of the alternative transit too.


  9. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: “* E.g., one of the transit gimmicks is a thing called Transportation Partnership Opportunity Fund, which is under the maintenance budget but it shuffles a chunk of money to transit.”

    Bob – this is a false statement:

    It’s true that this fund can be used for transit but it’s also true it can and is used for other things also:

    …”In August 2002, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the two Counties executed agreements to finance a Public Private Transportation Act (PPTA) construction contract for
    completion of six interchanges. In March 2006, the Route 28 District Commission was briefed as to
    an opportunity to extend the PPTA contract to complete the final four interchanges. The
    availability of the Governor’s Transportation Partnership Opportunity Fund (TPOF) program, a
    new financing program administered by the Governor,”

    what say you?

    did you err in making this accusation?

  10. Nah, the Transportation Partnership Opportunity Fund sends “a chunk” of money to transit — not all of it.

    Looking into how the fund was used was what set me off to look into the issue of fund transfers in general.

  11. Anonymous Avatar


    What is the amount of lane miles of vdot maintained roads in NOVA vs ROVA?

    NOVA is paying a 5% premium just based on the special sales tax. As you point out, they also pay more in the regular sales tax devoted to transportation, more sales tax on new cars, more tax on insurance (because they have more new cars) all because they earn and spend more money.

    Then they pay more real estate tax on more expensive homes to maintain local steets. And they have more local streets because a greater percentage of people do not have a driveway onto the local state rural road.

    For all of that, they get 30% worse service, and they get to be the state guinea pig on how to get tolly screwed.

    On the plus side, they do get decent public transit, compared to some places.

  12. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: 33.1-221.1:8. Transportation Partnership Opportunity Fund.

    B. The Fund shall be a component of the Commonwealth Transportation Fund but not a component or subcomponent of the Transportation Trust Fund or the Highway Maintenance and Operating Fund. Provisions of this title and Title 58.1 relating to the allocations or disbursals of proceeds of the Commonwealth Transportation Fund, the Transportation Trust Fund, or the Highway Maintenance and Operating Fund shall not apply to the Fund.

  13. To be precise, it’s listed under:

    Earmarks & Special Financing
    Hwy. Sys. Acq.& Constr.- Trans. Partnership Opportunity Fund

    A fund labeled “highway construction” is deceptive if it includes money earmarked for trolleys and metro. I found a breakdown somewhere of the projects.

    I have no idea what the NOVA/ROVA breakdown is. I’m less concerned with jealousy over nicer roads in a less important (but more livable) part of the state than I am in exploring the fundamental assumptions that appear to go entirely unexplored by the advocates of inefficient and deadly change.

  14. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    The Transportation Opportunity Fund appears to be financed from the General Fund not the HMOF and the General Assembly expressly intended for the fund to be used for transportation including rail and transit as well as roads.

    So I do object to this being portrayed as a sneaky diversion of funds for purposes not approved by law and policy.

    One can disagree with this choice but what I object to is framing it as part of a conspiratorial action to evade the intent of the law or policy.

    Even though you don’t agree, spending money on transit is not illegal nor wasteful nor a “diversion” of funds if it is approved by the Gov and the GA.

    what I object to (and I’m trying to be polite here) is that instead of debating on the merits – we are dealing with an implication of dishonest and wrongful actions of the folks who administer the budget and I strenuously disagree with that tactic – intentional or unintentional.

    And in case anyone is wondering, I have my own doubts about the validity of transit and it’s cost effectiveness but that is a separate issue from official wrongdoing.

    If society, elected officials, the Gov and the GA want to dedicate money to transit/rail – we can argue on the merits of whether this is good policy but I object to it being portrayed as a sneaky “diversion” that is done to evade the intent of the law.

    I don’t happen to believe that the Gov, the GA, and VDOT are corrupt and not trustable on any level and when we debate transportation – if this becomes the underlying theme then why have the discussion at all?

    If someone has specific evidence on wrongdoing..then I’m all for discussing it but to tar government with the “wrongdoing” label on legitimate policy -that you don’t agree with is not productive.

    Here’s the bottom line:

    The Transportation Opportunity fund was expressly intended to be used for transit by the Gov and the GA and VDOT is doing what the law and policy called for.

    and there are other areas in the budget – that are intended expressly to be dedicated to transit and as wrong as one might think that is on a policy basis – it is not conspiratorial wrongdoing to divert funds from roads.

  15. Anonymous Avatar

    What I found was 57,867 statewide and 16,000 in NOVA.

    NOVA appears to have 27% of the state maintainded roads, 33% of the populeation, and pays more than 35% of transportation revenues. Probably more than 40%.

    Based on average commute time, NOVA roads provide a level of service 30% lower than the rest of the state.

  16. Anonymous Avatar

    I have my own doubts about the validity of transit and it’s cost effectiveness but that is a separate issue from official wrongdoing.


    But, how nontransparent does a transaction have to be before it begins to look like something deliberaately hidden?

    If transportation advocates are working behind the scenes to promote their agenda and keep their activities and costs hidden or inaccessible, how is that different from the nefarious activities ascribed to promoters of other special interests, such as developers?


  17. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “But, how nontransparent does a transaction have to be before it begins to look like something deliberaately hidden?”

    It does happen and when it does it should be hammered…

    but not every dollar spent on transit is the result of illegal skulduggery and I object to such portrayals

    .. because in the end.. you could make that argument about virtually ANY expenditure of money that you personally did not agree with – on a policy basis. disagree on the merits…

    This is not the first time this has been done – and it’s obviously blatant when one does a cursory GOOGLE of the phrase.

    The intent of the GA is very clear.

    They INTEND for some of this money to be spent on transit/rail with specific guidelines…

    There was no illegal diversion of funds from roads to transit and I object to portraying it on that basis…

    Many of us might well disagree on the use of tax money for transit – but that does not make it illegal nor is there some kind of a giant conspiracy to hide this fact from the public…

    It’s an honest policy issue – not a corrupt and dishonest government issue..

    VDOT and the Gov did nothing unethical or illegal by spending money on transit. It was the express intent of the GA to allow it.

    Portraying it as unethical actions is just plain wrong in my view.

  18. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “If transportation advocates are working behind the scenes to promote their agenda and keep their activities and costs hidden or inaccessible, how is that different from the nefarious activities ascribed to promoters of other special interests, such as developers?”

    because those kinds of activities occur for roads as well as rail/transit and, in fact, virtually anywhere than govt spends money – and citing them as reasons why transit/rail is wrong without using the same standard for roads..means what?

    Using inappropriate actions as a rationale to argue against something you disagree with is not dealing with it on the merits.

    I could use the same tactics to “prove” that funding for roads is corrupt and illicit.. and, in fact, Federal earmarks are famous for “diverting” funds from intended spending – for roads even… i.e. “bridges to nowhere” but this does not prove in any way, shape or form that spending money on roads is a wrong policy.

    We do have corrupt, illicit, sneaky diversions of money – for roads even.. but it does not mean that roads themselves are a wrong policy choice.

    To me – this is an important distinction when debating.

  19. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    To get us back on track:

    Here is the Gov’s budget:

    what is wrong with it and how should it be changed?

    and if someone feels like money in the existing VDOT budget is wasted or appropriated wrongly… then by all means – educate us with the facts and make it part of the budget discussion…

    but at the end of the day – should Virginia appropriate new money (or re-prioritize it from existing uses) to fund (annually):

    $450 million for statewide maintenance (from statewide taxes)
    $300 million for NoVa (NoVa taxes)
    $168 million for HR/TW (HR/TW taxes
    $142 million for rail/transit (statewide taxes)


    What do the Republicans think the priorities should be if Kaine has it wrong?

  20. Did anyone ever say the diversion of funds to transit was illegal? As long as there are no constitutional provisions implicated, anything the general assembly does is ipso facto legal. There’s no constitutional provision against dishonesty.

    And what is dishonest is calling transit “highway construction.” Hiding transit payments in construction, maintenance and operational accounts makes it difficult to understand the true costs of different policy options — it looks like the state is spending $4.2 billion on roads when, in fact, it is only spending $3.5 billion (or whatever). It makes it easier to pretend that road money is drying up by busting the budget with transit spending. Dulles rail. It makes it easier to claim that motorists are not paying their fair share if all the numbers are unclear.

    Transparency is always good; it is the enemy of bogus claims.

    By the way, I think NOVA’s road mile numbers might appear lower because a few localities up here do their own maintenance. E.g., Arlington (I think).

  21. Groveton Avatar

    The following post was so good it bears repetition:

    What I found was 57,867 statewide and 16,000 in NOVA.

    NOVA appears to have 27% of the state maintainded roads, 33% of the populeation, and pays more than 35% of transportation revenues. Probably more than 40%.

    Based on average commute time, NOVA roads provide a level of service 30% lower than the rest of the state.

    So – one more time – tell me why the only commuters who should be taxed with an obscenely high toll-tax are the people driving in Northern Virginia?

    Also, regading the 5% premium – it’s not 5%. It would only be 5% if the people in every jurisdiction bought the same dollar value of “stuff” each year. But they don’t. Rich people buy (per capita) more stuff. And the people in NoVA are richer than the Virginia average and are buying more stuff (per capita) than the Virginia average. Since “stuff” doesn’t equate to road costs in any meaningful way, the only way to calculate the percentage permium is to “dollarize” the sales tax premium then convert it to a percentage related to transportation.

    It is higher than 5%.

  22. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    VDOT stands for the Department of Transportation – not roads…and CTB similarily stands for Commonwealth Transportation Board not the Commonwealth Roads Board.

    the vast majority of the allocations are properly identified otherwise we’d never know the alleged misuse. How did you find out that they were not properly labeled int he first place?

    for instance:

    Mass Transit Fund
    Share of Special Session Funds (14.7%) $129,798,785

    which also implies that the GA actually intended for 14.7% of general revenue funds to go to transit.

    700 million dollars of VDOT funding does not come from automobiles but rather general revenues.

    The General Assembly and the Gov and the CTB and VDOT allocate some of these funds for rail and transit and it is not hidden… it’s pretty clear, in fact.

    could the whole budget for BOTH roads and rail have more transparency? yes.. and there already are big docs available if one wants to delve further.

    But what is true is that there is no different level of accountability to “hide” transit expenditures… as implied…much less that this “proves” that transit expenditures are “wrong”.

    your claim of purposeful hiding of transit info ..would have to involve essentially a government-wide conspiracy involving the Gov, BOTH SIDES of the GA, the CTB, and VDOT to work in concert to attempt to “hide” transit expenditures…

    and upon which you seize on the concept that because this “conspiracy” [sic] occurs that it basically means that Transit funding is unethical and therefore a legitimate basis for opposing it.

    if the pro transit folks did what you do – in reverse – claiming that all the abuses on the road side proved that roads were a wrong policy.. what would you think?

    Virtually no policy expenditure of money is without some improper actions..whether it be for education, prisons, police cars, you name it…

    but to say that because there are abuses..that it means that the intended purpose of the money is wrong is not logical at all..

    Using your logic.. we’d have no justifiable spending of money for any purpose…because someone somewhere..somehow would find a way to spent it improperly…

    it’s basically an anti-government idea… i.e. any money spent by the government that I don’t agree with is bad government….

    I say this POLITELY…but firmly

  23. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: “So – one more time – tell me why the only commuters who should be taxed with an obscenely high toll-tax are the people driving in Northern Virginia?”

    assuming that you are dead ON – on the facts (which I’d like to see some evidence of)…

    but even if true – the answer would be: “because it is the folks in NoVa that use those roads that that should pay for them”.

    Now.. if it turns out that the toll money gets spent somewhere else for purposes that have nothing to do with NoVa – I would fully agree with your sentiments…

    It is, in fact, one of the things that is going on in other states that I disagree with…

    But as far as I know, the HOT lane toll revenues will be plowed directly back into NoVa …

    if it turns out that VDOT plans on taking this money and spending it on RoVa.. I will be a outraged as you are… and further.. I suspect that most Nova elected will do something about it or get voted out.

  24. Toll Man Avatar
    Toll Man

    Jim- I think if you look at § 33.1-23.03:9 you will see that any revenues generated by a concession agreement have to go towards improving, as it stats in B 1, “reasonably related to or benefit the users of the qualifying transportation facility that was the subject of a concession.”

    So unlike the PA Turnpike proposal, Virginia can’t lease the HRBT and send the up-front money to Roanoke. If Kaine hadn’t given the Dulles Toll Road to MWAA and done a concession, the money raised would have stayed in the corridor for improvements.

  25. My only conclusion from the data presented here is:
    “Motorists pay more in special taxes and fees than is spent on roads at the local and state level.”

    Please don’t invent strawmen arguments out of what I’m saying. Who ever said the budget numbers created an argument that funding mass transit was wrong? And who said hiding numbers required a conspiracy?

    Every legislative body hides numbers to some degree. Appropriations are always a shell game with money moved from one account to another in whatever way is needed to reach the desired outcome. The more transparency exists, the less power legislators have to the manipulate policy outcome. No conspiracy required; do nothing and things remain opaque.

    Those who use numbers to imply motorists aren’t paying enough to meet roads needs are dishonest. They are lying. See conclusion mentioned above.

    Of course the legislature intends to spend money on transit. They do so because they do not intend to spend money on new roads.

  26. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Toll Man, thanks for the clarification on what the toll money can be used for. It’s reassuring to know that language is in the legislation. At least it is a partial barrier to misuse. Of course, as Gov. Kaine demonstrated with the Dulles Toll Road, the language can be circumvented.

  27. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “Those who use numbers to imply motorists aren’t paying enough to meet roads needs are dishonest. They are lying.”

    That’s not what you implied that I objected to.

    You were implying that there is a conspiratorial government bias towards transit to hide the expenditures and that’s what I objected to and will continue to do so when you use that tactic.

    Yes..there are folks who claim that road users don’t pay all of their true costs…

    but you won’t hear that argument from VDOT who does the budget documents that you claim hide expenditures for transit.

    re: spending tolls on other than the facility that charges them…

    if I were a Republican in Virginia, I would make this an issue in the GA – to pass a law that expressly prohibits this and takes it out of the hands of the Gov or VDOT.

    That would be a very effective way to convince this guy that Republicans actually do have ideas about transportation in Virginia.

  28. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    and despite the to and fro on honest, transparent budgets… et all…

    not a word on Kaine’s budget nor one that is deemed better than his budget.

    I’ll note one thing.

    Kaine lists a 1% sales tax for HR/TW (which a majority of citizens there – opposed) but it only generates about 167 million dollars a year but he lists these projects:

    I-64 Widening
    Midtown/Downtown Tunnel
    Southeastern Parkway
    I-664 widening
    Third Crossing
    Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel
    Route 460

    I don’t know the costs for all of these but the costs for the Third Crossing are billions…

    there is no way that the amount of funding that Kaine is proposing will come close to paying for even a couple of what is listed.

    Some of the elected (including Republicans) in TW/HR are talking about using the sales tax money as seed money for PPTA toll projects.

    What say the Republicans and others who don’t like Kaine’s budget?

    Bob – do you think the projects in HR/TW could be funded with savings identified in the current VDOT budget?

    What would you support?

  29. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    wow. not a peep!

    so – to summarize…

    Kaine’s plan to generate more money for statewide maintenance, new infrastructure for NoVa and HR/TW and a dedicated transit fund from General Revenues and not cars….

    is.. a classic tax&spend ripoff of taxpayers….in the eyes of those partisan and non-partisan critics who are opposed to his plan…

    and the better alternate path to accomplishing the goals/purposes of his plan – from the critics (like Bob) and the Republicans is…..:

    …….. yes….silence…

    That’s the problem with critics.

    They don’t like the proffered plan but refuse at the same time to get in the game either so instead they lob paintballs hot and heavy on their way to hide in the closet –

    oh – and their favorite parting shot is that the guys in the GA are spineless and feckless because they will not make the, hereto with unspecified “hard choices” that are necessary.

    God forbid that their citizen supporters of the GA opposed to Kaine’s Plan – should join the discussion – and actually tell their elected what plan they support….

    So Kaine puts something on the table and his critics refuse to offer an alternative – and so that makes it even more of Kaine’s fault… ?

    Yes, of course.. because if Kaine did not have the temerity to actually put a plan on the table – there would be no pressure on others who don’t like it to – actually generate an alternate plan.

    this is apparently what passes for “leadership” in Virginia these days.

    this is why the Republicans and those critics who refuse to offer competing ideas – will lose in NoVa and other places…

    this is why… the folks who win – by default will put in place THEIR plan for more transit and HOT lane tolls and higher taxes to finance it all.

    the game is forfeited by default when the other team does not show up much less have a game plan.

    So the other side must secretly love tolls, transit and higher taxes because it appears that not a word comes from them when asked to put up or shut up… they shut up.

    tsk tsk

    Jim Bacon – this is your Blog…

    defend your fellow R’s…

    say something…


    isn’t it true that the tax & spenders will win – by default if the other side does not show up?

  30. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Larry, Why would you select me of all people to defend the R’s on transportation policy? I’ve been relentlessly critical of GOP transportation policy.

    If anyone in the Elephant Clan were to ask my advice, I would suggest they develop a line of argument along these lines:

    * Instead of taxing citizens at the state level and allocating money back to localities for secondary roads, let’s give local governments the means to raise money for those roads. We’ve already put a user-pays mechanism into place — impact fees and Urban Development Areas — and we’re studying a reform of proffers/impact fees. Let’s take the time to think this through carefully, not meet Tim Kaine’s deadline for doing something and leaving a “legacy” on transportation.

    * When it comes to financing roads, bridges and infrastructure of statewide significance, let us identify projects that may be undertaken by private interests with private funding, to be repaid by tolls. If the market does not exist at present to generate sufficient tolls to justify an investment, maybe the project is not economically feasible at this point in time — and maybe we are justified in waiting to build it.

  31. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Jim – I don’t know what to say.

    You’ve taken the words right out of my mouth.

    No.. you’ve said in 1/10 the words – efficient and succinct!

    now where are the rest of those folks hiding in the closets..

    come out. come out. wherever you are.

    Here’s the Kaniac Plan again for those that missed it:

    The Gov is asking for a billion dollars in new taxes… for


    is the Gov your ordinary run-of-the-mill tax & spender totally lacking in a creative tax-free approach to better government?

    If so.. don’t let the cat get yur tongue…

    Can we:

    take care of the maintenance costs
    build NoVa their desired projects
    build HR/TW their desired projects
    build the transit folks their projects

    ..without a billion dollar tax increase?


    is there no need to build a billion dollars worth of new projects to begin with?

    so the marketplace of transportation ideas in BR – the shelves are pretty bare..

    only the JB and Kaniac “brands” are currently stocked…

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