The Senate in Retreat

It looks like the state Senate is backing down in its confrontation with the House of Delegates over taxes and transportation. From today’s report from the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Hoping to jump-start budget talks, the Virginia Senate could be poised to eliminate a major roadblock to new funding for transportation. Senators last night were discussing isolating new taxes for roads and transit from their version of the proposed two-year, $74 billion budget.

Just one comment on the reporting… sorry, I can’t resist. Jeff Schapiro and Michael Hardy also made the following statement: “The Senate proposal would represent a retreat by the chamber as well as an overture to a seemingly intransigent House.”

A “seemingly intransigent House?” Did Schapiro and Hardy refer to a “seemingly intransigent Senate” when the House caved on taxes back in 2004? As I recall — and I’ll be happy to stand corrected — the House was being characterized as intransigent back then, too!

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8 responses to “The Senate in Retreat”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    All “atwitter” about one little adjective aren’t we?

  2. Not Susan Clarke Schaar Avatar
    Not Susan Clarke Schaar

    There’s apparently a high hurdle for the Senate to clear if every time they propose something entirely new it’s characterized as a retreat towards the House position. I don’t remember the House calling for regional authorities in the regular session so how the bills the Senate passed today can be called caving in to the House escapes me. Today’s action represents a serious effort to introduce some new ideas, rather than the circular rhetoric. Regional authorities comprising elected officials in each region prioritizing transportation projects and allocating locally-raised revenue? Yeah, that sounds a lot like what’s been coming out of the House Republican Caucus since March.

    If the House isn’t prepared to consider these new proposals seriously, I think the Senate is going to lose faith that it has a serious partner committed to finding a real resolution to the transportation problem. And if that happens, I think some senators are going to be ready for something more extraordinary.

  3. Not Charlie Hawkins Avatar
    Not Charlie Hawkins

    Not SCS- This is neither entirely new nor a real resolution. For one, the House was the first to recommend the regional approach, passing HB 1257 and thier amendment (443.1 #1h) to HB 30, the biennial budget. This returned a portion of the current recordation tax and insurance premiums back to NoVA and HR authorities for critical local projects. The Senate dismissed it as balkanization.

    As far as new proposals, the Senate has chosen to throw out several different tax increases and see which ones stick. Unfortunately for Lord Chichester and his kool-aid drinking lackeys, the public isnt exactly providing huge support. It is coming across more that the Senate is telling the people what they need, flying in the face of the 2002 referenda votes.

    The Senate is not caving- yet. But the closer they get to the end of the fiscal year sans budget, and to Republican primaries, the closer the get to approving a budget and acting fiscally responsible. Then we can start talking actual transportation solutions, not dumping more money blindly into VDOT for projects that may further the problem, not ease it.

  4. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    NCH (who are these people these people aren’t?): Like the cut of your jib on His Lordship Sir John Chichester and the Republicans in the House of Lords. But, Republican primaries aren’t until May-Jun 07. This budget will wrap long before then.

  5. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I don’t think the root of this issue is about money nor taxes but about transportation policy – or more specifically the lack of a cogent and comprehensive approach that is trusted by citizens nor local and regional elected officials.

    Citizens DO support paying for projects that have local benefits and are cost-effective and timely.

    What they won’t do is send money to Richmond where a bunch of VDOT bureacratics will determine what and when will be built utilizing an undefined process that generates a piece of paper that promises “something” sometime in the future.

    Those that want to label potential legislative responses to the above issues as “balkanization” essentially are disavowing and ignoring the problem in my opinion.

    The same citizens in NoVa who turned down the 2002 Transportation Referenda, (the proceeds of which would have gone to VDOT), also approved almost a dozen LOCAL road referenda.

    Those roads are not paper but asphalt or plans that actually will result in asphalt in the near future.

    What we’ve got from VDOT is the following:

    * – ponzi-scheme “wish lists”
    * – gross mismanagement of projects
    * – irresponsible financial accounting practices
    * – the use of an undeterminabe allocation and prioritzation process
    * – a tendency towards unachievable and unfundable “mega” projects vice common-sense targetted improvements for truly simple things like timing traffic lights, congestion bottlenecks, etc.
    * – VERY Expensive infrastructure compared to private venture design and construction.

    The Senate, in my opinion, is acknowledging that no forward movement is going to happen until and unless strong assurances are given to localities that they will have more control over their own respective destinies – i.e. local regional transportation authorities – where – square one – local citizens decide if they want to pony up additional dollars for LOCAL transportation improvements.

    VDOT problems aside – this has been the problem from the get-go as each localitiy was being led to believe that somehow the costs of their local transportation improvements would be collected from all state taxpayers.. and the “game” became who had the legislative horsepower to prevail in directing state-collected funds to their own locality.

    I’d humbly offer that what we are witnessing if nothing short of a “no-confidence” vote of VDOT – and rhetoric and postering as to what we should do instead.

  6. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Anon – I’m talking about primaries for the GA in 07. I don’t know the exact dates.

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    The idea of the “terminal fee” is starting to grow on me. In truth, it won’t be easy for the oil companies to pass it along to consumers, at least not directly. I’ve always suspected that even with a straight cents and the pump increase, not all of it would show up in the price. There is good economic data that other forces are at work and the oil companies jack up the wholesale price in the low tax states (read Virginia).

    We don’t have an oil supply problem or an oil price problem, we have an ANTI TRUST problem. Forget your windfall profits taxes, we need (100 years later) another round of trust busting.

  8. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: gas tax

    two datapoints:

    Visited NC a week ago.. where the state gas tax is about 8cents more I believe but gas was only 2-3 cents more than Va.

    Also.. in the Fredericksburg Area – Fredericksburg City and Stafford adjacent to the North have a 2% regional gas tax for VRE but Spotsylvania, adjacent to the South does not – and gasoline is often as cheap or cheaper in the two VRE jurisdictions.

    But having said that – we’re talking about a few pennies not big bucks. One could easily wipe out your meager “savings” by purchasing a $1 soft drink (vice being really cheap and paying a buck at WalMart for a 2 liter version.

    Never understood the logic behind saving 2 or 3 cents per gallon on gasoline… especially if you have to invest additional gasoline (and your own time) to drive further for those “big” savings. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I know folks that have actually run out of gas.. waiting to find it for the cheapest price… ๐Ÿ™‚

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