Reaction to the Kaine Transportation Package

I’ll update reactions to the Kaine transportation package as information comes out.

Environmental/conservation community: The first e-mail to my inbox came a press release from a coalition of environmental and conservation groups: Withholding comment on most of the Governor’s package, they praised the provision that would empower local governments to block rezoning projects that would overwhelm local/regional roads. (I will link to the full text when the press release is posted online.)

“Nothing has harnessed public frustration over out-of-control growth and won public support like Governor Kaine’s promise to ensure local governments and citizens have the ‘power to say no,’” said Lisa Guthrie, Executive Director of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters.

House of Delegates: The House leadership has responded negatively to the Kaine plan, focusing on the proposed tax increase rather than opportunities for land use reform. Said Del. Leo Wardrup, R-Virginia Beach, chairman of the House transportation committee (no link):

It’s déjà vu all over again. It seems like just yesterday this Governor was breaking is campaign promise to not raise taxes less than a week after taking his inaugural oath. But here he is again, proposing a huge statewide tax increase that he promoted in town hall meetings across the state and still failed to win public or legislative support. It’s perplexing that he so readily abandoned a central campaign promise against higher taxes, yet remains adamantly opposed to any proposal that doesn’t
include a statewide tax increase.

From the Times-Dispatch:

Del. M. Kirkland Cox, R-Colonial Heights, declared that the governor “has become irrelevant to the transportation debate. He’s been AWOL since last January.” His plan is “not even warmed-over leftovers but just remnants pulled out of the refrigerator,” said Cox, a budget negotiator and leading force in the House GOP caucus.

From the Washington Post:

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) said Kaine’s transportation proposal “relies on the same ideas that have proven unsuccessful in the past. . . . While the people of Virginia want something done about transportation, they are not prepared to pay higher taxes, either.” …

“I don’t know how you could argue with that,” former Fairfax Chamber of Commerce chairman Michael Anzilotti said after the governor’s speech. “You cannot get through this session again without getting something done. We’re not going to tolerate it.”

John B. Townsend II, a spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said, “This year, Governor Kaine’s transportation revenue proposal will give [lawmakers] the chance to redeem themselves and, if enacted, will spare commuters from the consequences of Virginia’s worsening transportation funding crisis.”

And David Guernsey, chairman of the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, said reluctant lawmakers should think twice before rejecting Kaine’s proposals out of hand.

From the Roanoke Times:

Sen. Charles Hawkins, R-Chatham, called Kaine’s revised proposal “a good start.” Hawkins, the chief sponsor of last year’s Senate transportation package, said lawmakers “need to get the funding in place this year.”

“Even the people in the rural areas are starting to realize what the impact of doing nothing is going to have on us,” Hawkins said.

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9 responses to “Reaction to the Kaine Transportation Package”

  1. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “In a two-page analysis, the Home Builders Association of Virginia declared the idea “neither a populist fix nor a solution to the transportation crisis.” The group’s executive director, Mike Toalson, vowed to stop the legislation again this year.

    “We will fight this absolutely,” he said yesterday.”

    anyone have access to the two-page analysis?

    what specifically are they going to “fight”?

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    What is amazing to me is how the HBoV can make a straight-faced argument that these type of restrictions have had any negative impact on home building around the U.S. These and, indeed, much stronger restrictions are a part of the market in most areas of the country. Can anyone demonstrate that housing prices are lower in Virginia than they are elsewhere? Housing prices reflect market conditions.

    Our legislators, both Republicans and Democrats, will need to decide who they serve: their constituents or their biggest campaign contributors.

    If Kaine were serious about reform, he’d say: “I’ll veto any transportation bills if I don’t first receive one that includes authority for local governments to reject zoning applications where the roads cannot handle the additional traffic.” Don’t hold your breath. Tim Kaine is not “Profiles in Courage” material.

  3. This idea of adopting legislation in order to deny rezonings based on traffic impacts is a bit of a straw man. Local governments have a myriad of reasons in which they could rely upon to deny zonings. They can deny zonings based on traffic impacts today in the interest of health safety and welfare. Comp plan conformance, preference of existing zoning…and the list goes on. And the courts a typically deferential.

    Perhaps this legislation attempts to take the threat of lawsuit away?

    We all can assume how the legislation might treat residential projects; But what about commercial projects?

    If the legislation permits denial of a project that overwhelms the system, well its seems then that we can never again see a NEW AOL campus in Northern Virginia. Because that surely would “overwhelm” the system.

  4. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    Leo Wardrup rocks!

    3 cheers for the rock standing in the path of the blank-check tax & spenders!

    Now if I can just get him to dump his support of those awful all-appointed Regional Transportation Funding Authorities – life would be good.

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    Dear Bloggers:

    Virginia has 7.5 million residents.

    We have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country (3.3 %
    in Hampton Roads, for example).

    We continue to create new jobs needing workers.

    Our children that are becoming adults are now looking to buy their first

    Millions of vacationers to our state want to use our roads to visit the
    Blue Ridge Parkway, Colonial Williamsburg and Virginia Beach.

    Port facilities continue to generate new business requiring more rail
    and road capacity. One new facility under construction in Portsmouth
    will add 1 million new containers neeeding to be moved via our systems.

    Residents and travelers in our of Hampton Rhoads continue to struggle
    with inadequate access from that region with 1.6 million residents.

    Northern Virginia’s highways are now parking lots. The Greater Washington
    DC Metropolitan Area 5 million plus residents struggle every day to meet
    their needs on our bad highways. METRO and VRE trains are strained with
    to many passengers.

    Businesses and residents along I-81 from Maryland to Tennessee in Virginia
    have a miserable time dealing with traffic on that busy truck route. A
    major truck accident on that highway can shut down that road for hours.

    I find it awful that bloggers find something to cheer about relative to
    these problems.

    No one rocks in this situation!!!!! This isn’t just about campaign
    contributors!!!!!! This isn’t about special interest groups!!!!!

    It is about our need to meet our transportation demands and to better
    manage our state’s growth.

    Bloggers, you need to realize you are as much a part of this problem
    as anyone everything you drive on our state’s clogged highway system.


    Rodger Provo

  6. Anonymous Avatar

    Rodger – Two quick points. Despite all our hoopla, Virginia’s economy is largely dependent on federal spending, both at Hampton Roads and in NoVA. I suspect that, with the change in control in Congress, the huge number of homeland security and defense contracts that have fueled NoVA will slow. I know several businesses in these markets that are beside themselves with fear.

    Second, here’s a quotation from page 9 of the state auditor’s report. “In the past, many of the decisions to start or add projects to the SYIP appear to have been motivated more by a project’s popularity or the desire to begin as many projects as possible rather than develop a realistic, deliverable project plan. Transportation staff and the Board did not follow established, objective criteria to determine project selection and authorization. They also did not consider available resources for
    long-term project funding. Policy makers encouraged this environment and the construction program expanded dramatically.”

    Nothing has changed. Why should anyone pay higher taxes until this mess is fixed?

  7. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I actually AGREE with Rodger’s analysis of the issues but, of course, disagree with his conclusion.

    Mobility for goods and services as well as mobility for individuals to live, work and play is vital to Virginia.

    It is absolutely connected to our economic health AND our quality of life.

    We don’t disagree on this at all and I suspect most folks in this BLOG do not disagree.

    WHERE we disagree is that Rodger apparently believes that what we’ve been doing all along with regard to transportation (mobility) is fine and that what happened is that we ran out of money … and now we need to raise taxes to continue funding what he believes the process that we had all along.

    Many people whether they be tax hawks, environmentalists, or just ordinary folks do not believe we got here with a “Good” process.

    They believe we have a process that squanders money on things that are NOT effective in accomplishing their intended purpose.

    There is a lack of accountability both with regard to land-use decisions and transportation (MOBILITY) decision-making and outright mistrust that the business and development communities OWN the process as well as the elected folk who legislate and function in theory on behalf of taxpayers. Some believe that they manipulate the process to derive wealth for themselves – at the expense of taxpayers and everyday users of the infrastructure.

    In this context – it appears to me – that people who question the process – are thought to be “anti” by others who really find no major fault to be rectified except that more money is needed AND that only a “select” group of people – not the ordinary “unwashed” are really qualified to participate in changes.

    Pre-Internet this was the case. It was relatively easy to mute the voices of those who disagreed and essentially ignore the public concerns and proceed as the business and development community saw fit.

    This BLOG is but one of thousands where ordinary folks ideas can freely circulate and not be muted by gate-keepers.

  8. Reid Greenmun Avatar
    Reid Greenmun

    In regard to the last post: one word – Amen.


    Let’s chat about the ‘port thing’ for a moment, shall we?

    I live in Tidewater. The local business lobby has joined forces with the powerful port lobby and the powerful road building lobby and the powerful trucking lobby and the powerful real estate development lobby and the powerful banking lobby to keep pushing the expansion of our local port – the port of Hampton Roads.

    Now the all-appointed Virginia Port Authority keeps pushing the expansion of the port – Craney Island, the Maerisk terminal next to my office at the Coast Guard station – and they have joined forces with all those special interest groups. They tout the so-called “economic benefits” this expansion will “yield”.

    Notice they don’t claim it will “net” any benefit to the taxpayers.

    Why? Because their “plan” for paying for the required “public” infrastructure needed to move those zillions of new multimodal shipping containers costs taxpayers a whole lot more than they get in return.

    First up? They want the local “regional” taxpayers to borrow $4.4 Billion Dollars to build the port a fancy bridge tunnel – a bridge tunnel that does almost NOTHING to reduce the state of traffic congestion for our region’s highway network – but will be built so the Trucking Bobby will NOT HAVE TO PAY for the new highway for their new trucks.

    I proposed moving the new containers by RAIL to a new inland port at Ft Lee VA – and transfer the containers to trucks there – right off I-85 and I-95. Problem solved. Trucking lobby hates it – local “Hampton Roads” business lobby hates it – the VPA really hates it – why, golly gee wiz – it will make them “uncompetitive” don’tcha know?

    Okay – then put a toll on it and let the TRUCKS pay for the bridge-tunnel highway they need – combined with a TIF that will take 50% of all those massive profits the VPA claims this expansion will “yield” – presto! The so-called “3rd Crossing” is paid for – by those that use it – and want it – and those that created the “need” for it in the first place!

    Why isn’t this being done??? Because the VPA and everyone else promoting this myth of massive profits knows that isn’t going to happen and there will not be any money made to pay for a $4.4 Billion Dollar bridge tunnel – more over, the banks know this and will not issue the bonds required.

    So – why do it is the taxpayers are going to lose so much money??????

    Because some individuals and some select businesses will make a killing – to begin with, the state politicians that are part owners of the concrete company that will “win” the contract for all that concrete “needed” to build this monster bridge-tunnel!

    Their “plan” – taxpayers pay for the roads they need, they get rich! – such a deal!

    But wait – there is more!!!

    It seems that the international shipping community is shifting to new DEEPER DRAFT SHIPS to save money. Ut-oh!! GASP! Guess what?! The port of Hampton Roads is not deep enough for the new ships it is being built/expanded to accommodate!

    Dumb you say? Not to worry – the local yokels and our STATE will get the taxpayers from Iowa and Maine to pay for it – why … just have the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers use Federal tax dollars – billions of ’em – to DREDGE THE PORT – so it can accommodate the new deep draft ships!

    But wait – there’s more!!!!

    Let’s have the taxpayers pick up the tab to move the old privately owned RAIL LINES – and build NEW rail lines for the privately owned railroads!!!

    But wait – there’s more – let’s give away millions more in “incentives” to Maerisk and others to “close the deal”.

    Let’s rebuild RT 168 with new flyovers and roads for only the port use – which, by the way – ARE ALREADY FINISHED – and the port expansion is nowhere NEAR finished!!! (naw, we don’t build state roads BEFORE new construction – naw, not in Virginia!!! Baloney – I drive past these new highways EVERY WEEK DAY on my way to the Coast Guard station where I work.

    I can go on – about the EPA non-attainment and loss of Federal Highway Funds due to the air pollution from the new port facilities – or the multi-hundred’s of millions of tax dollars already spent on the MASSIVE Pinner’s Point bridge/highway expansion – for the port – but you get the picture.

    Soooo – when it is all said and done, the port expansion costs the taxpayers far more than it will EVER bring into the tax coffers – especially in Tidewater!!!

    But – a handful of business folks will become VERY WEALTHY because of this taxpayer subsidized boondoggle – the port expansion and the resulting $4.4B “3rd Crossing” – which isn’t really a third crossing at all!

    But, Roger-dodger, you want to know the real CRIME in all this?

    The truth that the local taxpayer subsidized Hampton Roads Partnership, the VPA, and HRPDC/MPO, and the TDCHR/HRT – all paid for by taxpayers – have held EVERY OTHER MAJOR TRANSPORTATION PROJECT hostage until they can extort the local taxpayers to pay for the new bridge-tunnelthey need, not us.

    Welcome to reality – welcome to Virginia.

    And, Roger-dodger – you wonder why so many of us taxpayers and everyday citizens don’t jump onboard your “We NEED more tax money – quick – for more roads” band wagon?!

    The problem isn’t us, it is the so-called “business community” that is so greedy they can’t be trusted to place the public good ahead of lining their own pockets.

  9. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    man.. what a knuckle-dragger…


    p.s thought I’d beat Roger to the punch. 🙂

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