START Produces Little Heat But Real Meat

The third meeting of the Senate’s START committee was handicapped by having to follow 24 hours of the Senate Finance Committee’s annual retreat at the Radisson on the Hampton waterfront. The senators and many observers were pretty wonked and zonked out by 1 p.m. Friday when the joint senator and citizen panel gathered, and it started bleeding senators almost immediately. Here’s the take from the Daily Press.

There were no observers from the House, which totally ignored transportation during it’s Appropriations Committee retreat earlier last week in Loudoun County. They brought the committee to Lansdowne in heart of commuter hell and within a stone’s throw of classic public-private projects and left transportation off the agenda for the second year in a row. A reporter who had been there told me the excuse was: tranportation isn’t a General Fund program. (I thought that was Chichester’s position.)

But there were two key guests at START from Governor-elect Kaine’s transition staff, Larry Roberts and Brian Shepherd. Both said nothing and kept admirable poker faces during the discussion (when they didn’t rush out to take cell calls), but they were there until the end.

What they listened to was a detailed discussion of a document on “Issues and Principles for Resolution.” It was like a diplomatic meeting where first you set the agenda, but just by setting the agenda you make key decisions. The document was created by facilitator Mark Rubin, who conducted phone interviews with all the group members and compiled the consensus. (Note to Bacon: Read the sections on land use and VDOT reform closely.) He must have done a good job because there wasn’t much debate.

But there was some. They struck the income tax off the list. Tim Robertson from Virginia Beach, son of the evangelist and a major Hampton Roads business leader, stressed how many voters do expect some of the surplus funds to be used and may balk if they are not. Former State Senator Wiley Mitchell probably stirred up a lobbying storm with his comments about eliminating sales tax exemptions (expect more dark suits at the next meeting.)

You can read the “Issues and Principles” document before the changes adopted Friday at the Senate Finance website. As before, not all Windows-based software can access it.

You can find the presentations for the whole Senate Finance Committee retreat here. Those of you who usually prefer the House’s point of view on issues should take the time to download and read these reports (if you can tear yourself away from the Ken and Phil Saga.) The briefing book that senators get out of this meeting gives them quite an advantage — it is solid gold.

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2 responses to “START Produces Little Heat But Real Meat”

  1. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    I couldn’t get in to see the details though the hyper links. Saw the first page, but couldn’t get any further.

  2. I don’t understand. Those are Adobe files which you can read with Adobe Acrobat Reader. It can be obtained for free from Adobe.

    I read the issues and principles document and thought it was sorry and contradictory.

    It is a microcosm of all the contradictory transportation issues we face.

    If they ever have to solve all those issues it will take forever and still not be possible: we had better become pedestrian friendly – and design ourt economy to suit.

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