Monday, December 19, 2005

Stop and START

Bob Burke has filed a report on the fourth and final meeting of the Statewide Transportation Analysis and Recommendation Task Force. The state Senate task force has covered some interesting ground, Burke summarizes, but with only weeks to go until the opening of the 2006 session of the General Assembly, it has not come to any consensus about proposed legislation. Read his story here.

The START task force has not agreed that a $1 billion transportation-related tax increase is necessary, as erroneously reported Dec. 17 by the Virginian-Pilot.

Indeed, the prospects for a tax increase in 2006 look very dim. The state Senate's own task force is divided on the issue. If any tax legislation emerges from the Senate, it is likely to encounter internal resistance. Meanwhile, the House of Delegates leadership has vowed to oppose any tax hike, and even Gov.-elect Tim Kaine has said he would fight any tax increase until a constitutional amendment were passed to prevent raids on the transportation trust fund.
Looks to me like the Virginian-Pilot and Roanoke Times ought to stop bellyaching about the need for higher transportation taxes and get behind the constitutional amendment. At least then, with the passage of an amendment, they'll have a chance of seeing their dream come true three years from now.

7 Comments:

At 8:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Burke is quibbling with Christina, but I don't quibble with this story by Burke (writing as somebody else who was paying close attention.)

He's quite right about the back and forth on tactics and whether the Senate should push for what it prefers rather than let the House dictate terms from the get go.

But my practiced ear on legislative banter picked up no real complaints about the $1 billion figure. It was left up in the air, but not because it was causing heartburn. I suspect the same dynamic was at work -- don't give the House a number to shoot at too early.

Burke was a little light on noting the START draft's emphasis on return on investment, congestion management (the main new fund they propose is for that specific purpose), openness to tolls and calls for changes in VDOT and the Commonwealth Transportation Board.

You're right, Jim -- nothing is going to happen on transportation this year. Go back to writing about illegal immigration.

 
At 9:21 PM, Blogger Bob Burke said...

Anonymous is probably right about the 'light' note on some of the proposals in the START draft.
But this is a strange time in the process, with everyone positioning themselves and holding their cards close. Right now, there's just a lot of talk.

START declared itself the group that was going to come up with some innovative ideas; so now let's see.

 
At 10:38 PM, Blogger Toomanytaxes said...

Did any state senator review election results from either the 2002 sales tax referendum or the recent gubernatorial race? Let's quickly review the results.

In the former election, voters saw through the well-marshaled arguments of many elected officials, self-appointed business leaders and, of course, the liberal "never-seen-a-tax-increase-I-didn't-like" editorial writers in favor of the referenda to vote "no." Why? Because the sales tax revenues were largely designed to build or expand roads in locations that would have fostered more development. Virginia's sophisticated suburban and exurban voters knew this and didn't like it.

This November, given a choice between Kilgore's lame "stopping development is anti-business" and Kaine's "hey, it's stupid to allow local government to approve rezoning applications where transportation is already inadequate," voters overwhelmingly chose the latter. A huge number of upper-middle- and higher-income voters, many of whom regularly vote Republican, are simply angry about the negative impact that development has on their quality of life (traffic, schools, parks, etc.) and voted for the candidate who said he would take some action to stop the out-of-control building. Like it or not, that's why Tim Kaine won big in suburban and exurban areas.

Now some members of the Senate apparently figure that these same voters in NoVA and Tidewater are going to support a local income tax to build more roads for more development. Ambrose Burnside's multiple waves of futile attacks at the sunken road at Fredericksburg made more sense than this. "Just one more run at the voters and they will surely agree to pay higher taxes to fund more development."

Right, wrong or indifferent, Virginia's suburban and exurban voters don't want to see more development or legislation that would enable it. The political party that first understands this will do well in 2007.

NoVA senators who understand the mood of the voters should be outbidding each other to go well beyond Tim Kaine's position in restricting development where the infrastructure is inadequate. All other things being equal, a state senator who voted for a tight adequate public facilities law would win in a landslide.

Is this necessarily fair to developers? No, but angry people aren't always fair. Both Tim Kaine and Patrick McSweeney get it. Does anyone in the Virginia Senate?

 
At 7:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Right, wrong or indifferent, Virginia's suburban and exurban voters don't want to see more development or legislation that would enable it. The political party that first understands this will do well in 2007."

I disagree. If by 2007 they are confident that the money will be spent as intended, have a better opinion of VDOT, and see signs of smarter planning and coordination, there will be success for the legislators who delivered that. I think many people understand that in this economy the choice is grow or die. Nothing like a recession to clear the roads. But the growth can be smarter.

Both candidates sensed and responded to voter anger over transportation in high congestion areas.

The candidate who promised (1) no way Jose on the gas tax even if we do lock it up (2) I won't raise your taxes without a referendum (3)we can do all this with existing revenue -- LOST.

The candidate who said (1) restore financial confidence (2) VDOT is getting better and I'll keep that going and (3) we can't not build roads but we can plan them better (4) I won't take a no tax pledge and I won't demand referendums -- WON.

I think one of the unnoticed changes in all this is that lots of people get it. Things need to change. The game is all about compromise and fusion and if people want to do something good this year, the pieces are in place.

 
At 9:02 AM, Blogger Toomanytaxes said...

The metro Washington economy is more complex than Anonymous suggests. GMU's professor Stephen Fuller's research indicates that only 42% is related to local business. A full 35% plus is connected directly or indirectly to the federal government, for example. Thus, while a failure to grow the local economy would certainly hurt a large number of people, such a failure would likely have absolutely no impact on more people. If a person, for example, earns a living working the Department of the Interior, for a national trade association, or representing Japanese or European companies, he or she is not negatively affected if ACME, Inc., a local company moves from NoVA. One could also make a strong argument that, for a government contractor located in Fairfax County, an economic downturn that creates a high office vacancy rate is a big economic plus, since it would likely permit the contractor to renegotiate its lease at a lower rate. An economic downturn would also allow the contractor to pick up good employees at reduced salaries. Some could benefit financially from a local downturn.

People in Fairfax County, for example, are not tied to each other economically in the same way that they are in many other parts of the state or nation. Moreover, as the overall economy continues to globalize, local economic ties will continue to weaken everywhere.

Moreover, these NoVA voters also understand the tax-benefit ratio between NoVA and the Commonwealth. We send dollars to Richmond and get pennies back. As Vince Callahan says when the state increases aid to education, many counties cut their real estate taxes. Many parts of Virginia have both low real estate taxes and brand new schools. Fairfax County has high real estate taxes and trailers. Moreover, the Commonwealth limits the number of NoVA students that can get into Virginia's universities. Not too many people in Fairfax County go to bed worrying about the Commonwealth, resenting it - yes, worrying about it - no.

There is no trust in state or local officials in NoVA on anything related to land use, including transportation. People believe that, in the event that the State is given more money for transportation, state and local officials would use that money to facilitate development, rather than actually improve transportation. Our leaders prove this regularly with the policies that they adopt. People are not going to trust again until they see decisions being made regularly against more development.

Both Kilgore and Kaine said lots of things. You have summarized their positions correctly. But the one position that resonated with voters was Tim Kaine's promise to stop building where the infrastructure is in adequate.

Virginia has changed. Those who support more development can either continue to try to ram through policies and tax increases to maintain the same old world and face ever-growing opposition, or they can work with those who do not benefit from growth to devise new ways to make growth mutually beneficial. This clearly means that those favoring development will need to pay something. Changing win-lose to win-win means that the previous winners must give up something. That's hard to do, but it may well be necessary to avoid even bigger loses later.

 
At 4:28 PM, Blogger Reid Greenmun said...

]"There is no trust in state or local officials in NoVA on anything related to land use, including transportation. People believe that, in the event that the State is given more money for transportation, state and local officials would use that money to facilitate development, rather than actually improve transportation. Our leaders prove this regularly with the policies that they adopt.

]People are not going to trust again until they see decisions being made regularly against more development.


Amen to this.

The YES Campaign Part 2 is little more than the same pro-development "projects" pushed by Special Interest back in Nov 2002 with the Hampton Roads/Tidewater & NORVA Regional sale Tax Referendum.

The BIG TICKET items being pushed in Hampton Roads/Tidewater are the same failed package of HIGHWAYS and Virginia Port Authority boondoggles supported by the local Growth Lobby that the local DEVELOPERS have tried to cram down the throats of the local taxpayers for 10 years now.

Everyone understand that these projects do NOTHING to reduce commuter traffic congestion - and they are all about Port expansion, more TRUCKS on the highways, and more sprawl development in the western side of the Hampton Roads "region".

I would add that another reason Conservative Voters rejected Jerry Kilgore was his dumb plan to create even more corrupt and unaccountable REGIONAL GOVERNMENT!

Down here in Tidewater/"Hampton Roads" we have learned to distrust the all appointed REGIONAL Government parading as the HRPDC/MPO and TDCHR/HRT.

Let's face it - "Mass Transit" in our region is just another step down the road to Socialism.

I listened to the state's leadership on Transportation when they visited our neck-o-da-woods on October 12th, 2005 - there was No Will to begin the process of amending the state Constitution to protect the TTF - now the Gov. elect is already waffling on his campaign promises to do so.

The RINOs are lining up at the feeding trough of $pecial Inter$t campaign “contributors” …

While some here advance the notion that nothing will be done in regard to transportation this year – Senator Marty Williams clearly stated otherwise – while I am not sure if it was a promise or a threat, on October 12th he said (in regard to Transportation) “We’re going to do something.”

 
At 12:15 PM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

'Those who support more development can either continue to try to ram through policies and tax increases to maintain the same old world and face ever-growing opposition, or they can work with those who do not benefit from growth to devise new ways to make growth mutually beneficial. This clearly means that those favoring development will need to pay something."

I agree, TMT.

But I think this cuts both ways. In some places people will be hurt by the inability to develop. Whatever we do needs to be beneficial to them too. That means that tohse who are favored by limits to growth will need to pay also.

for example, in my Alexandria neighborhood there are houses built directly adjacent to streambeds. Such homes would be illegal today. But they are protected by new limitations on streambed development upstream. Those who might have been later builders are now prohibited, and they are providing flood insurance to the earlier builders at no cost.

 

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