Monday, January 09, 2006

Transportation - What's It Worth To You?

With apparent agreement on both sides of the aisle that Virginia will need to spend more on transportation, the questions are how much, and where will it come from. Lt.Gov-elect Bill Bolling tells the Augusta Free Press that Virginia has the money - it just needs to set its priorities.
'"If you go back and look at the budget that the governor has before us, he's done some good things, for example, moving the insurance-premium taxes from the general fund to the transportation trust fund. That's $311 million in additional funding for transportation. I don't think that $311 million is enough. I believe that to build a transportation system for the 21st century, it's going to take more than that. But I think we can find that money without raising taxes," Bolling told the AFP.
"It's clear that we have sufficient resources to build a transportation system for the 21st century, and do it without raising taxes, if we make that our number-one priority. And anyone who thinks that we can't just has to look at this governor's budget. Because it's got in it a billion dollars in spending on new government programs," Bolling said.'
That's a good argument with some traction (even though I don't know how solid that $1 billion figure is). For one thing, as it advances it breaks the opposition into a bunch of smaller interest groups that would have to then fight for their share of the shrinking pie. Of course, will the anti-tax GOP be able to speak with one voice on what other state functions they'll cut? Doubt it.


At 11:43 PM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

Our spending hasn't even kept up with population and inflation, let alone comerce and traffic.

If Bolling thinks he can do this without more money, well, all I can say is good luck.

At 9:30 AM, Blogger Bob Burke said...

Yeah, the one thing I like about Bolling's position is that it makes Virginia a proving ground for GOP visions about reducing the scope and cost of government. At the federal level, they just run up a deficit and don't make the hard choices. Here they've got to balance the budget, and so GOP leaders like Bolling will have to make cuts and then persuade the electorate. The point I'm making is neutral on whether the likely 'cuts' the GOP would have to identify are a good idea; I just like the idea of them having to explain exactly what they mean..

At 10:47 AM, Blogger Toomanytaxes said...

The problem with government is that, since it has the power to tax, its chief priority becomes spending money. Moreover, in many cases, including Fairfax County, government regularly increases spending faster than corresponding increases in taxpayers' income. At some point in time, the wheels fall off the wagon.

Different people can have different priorities. But they and their elected officials should be required to chose among priorities, rather than just spend more on everything. If transportation needs are, indeed, the top priority for Virginia, would it be unreasonable to expect the GA and the Governor to hold increases in other programs to the rate of inflation or population growth or, even, both combined, while putting more to transportation?

If transportation is Tim Kaine's priority, then expanding free education to include pre-school should not be.

I strongly suspect that, by restraining the growth in spending for other state programs to reasonable levels, as noted above, a lot could be done with transportation without additional revenues. That might not be enough to fix all the problems, but not all of Virgina's transportation problems relate to money or the lack thereof.

At 11:40 PM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

I keep saying they should put a priorities list on your tax form and you designate the percentage of the money you think we should spend on each topic.

Even if it wasn't binding, at least we would know what people say their priorities are.


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