Monday, February 06, 2006

House Committee Kills Kaine Plans

Ok, no surprise here, but it's a step toward setting the stage for the bigger fight. The House Finance Committee today rejected a couple of key funding proposals backed by Gov. Tim Kaine - the increase of the sales tax on on automobiles, and doubling the tax on auto insurance premiums. Here's the Washington Post story on the committee's actions.

Now comes whatever strategy the House GOP has for transportation funding, which is expected this week. One challenge they face is that the Senate and Kaine have set the bar for funding at roughly $4 billion over four years. Think the House can come up with that total? If they don't, they will be asked to explain why they don't need to. That's the downside of letting the other guys go first.
'In defeating the bills, delegates cited the state's healthy surplus and their concern that the plan simply tossed money at a transportation system that needed fundamental reform.
"We don't have a revenue problem in Virginia," said Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick (R-Prince William), an anti-tax legislator, who has submitted bills that would tweak zoning laws that he said would better help localities plan for transportation projects. "We have a transportation problem."'


At 4:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget Delegate Scott Lingamfelter's clear promise that the House will have a "robust" transportation package. That pledge got everyone's attention this morning. There was an outbreak of lapel stickers today with the message: Take the High Road; Don't Raid the General Fund.

At 4:58 PM, Blogger Bob Burke said...

Yeah, that was quite a promise to make. The lapel stickers suggest that many expect that 'robust' means taking a whole lot of money from education, public safety, etc.

Speaker Bill Howell has often said that he'd like to see the state focus on some specific core functions. Hope he doesn't pass up this opportunity to give more definition to what those are.

At 5:32 PM, Blogger Jim Bacon said...

The House's weakness is that it's been sending mixed signals. The House doesn't want to increase taxes, but, by suggesting that road projects can be funded from revenue streams now found in the General Fund, it has implictly legitimized the idea that the solution to traffic congestion is building more roads. The House, it seems, is still vulnerable to triangulation by Gov. Kaine and the state Senate.

It will be interesting to get more detail on the House's plans to link land use and transportation. The fact that the House is even thinking about land use represents a phenomenal step forward.

At 5:50 PM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

Part of the solution to traffic congestion is building more roads.

Nothing we do with land use will reduce congestion any time soon, if ever: the question is still open.

We will probably be faced with congestion, waste, and declining productivity for the forseeable future. If we are still faced with congestion the next time around the polling booth, then we will find out if thinking about land use is a step forward or not.

Until then, take Anthony Down's advice and get a car with comfortable seats and a good sound system. Preferably it will be a hybrid so that it will shut down and you are not supporting the system by burning fuel and contributing to road wear and tear by sitting still.

At 7:41 AM, Blogger Toomanytaxes said...

Isn't a large part of the problem the fact that there is no consensus as to the purpose of Virginia spending tax dollars and user fees on transportation resources? Some see widening a road as improving its capacity to carry vehicles during its busiest period of time. Others may see the same project as opening new areas to exurban development (with some believing this result is positive and others believing it to be a negative.) It's difficult to make progress when the players don't have a commonly accepted purpose. Lack of a common purpose also provides incentives for some to "sabotage" projects that they see as contrary to their personal goals.

Moreover, even if we could agree on the purpose(s) for state transportation projects, how do we know if and when we are achieving those goals? For example, assuming one accepted the goal of widening a road at a cost of $$$ to facilitate development, how does one (outside the affected landowners, developers, etc.) determine whether the moneys spent was effective? How do we measure whether building more lanes or expanding Metrorail or requiring telecommuting is more cost-effective and better meets stated goals?

Virginia should move the politics of transportation to debate over the goals. But once the goals are established, along with the appropriate measuring sticks, we need to move the process beyond the realm of the political types. Keep in mind that the goals and measuring sticks must include all appropriate factors, including impacts on nearby communities.

At 9:52 AM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

As usual, TMT is the rational voice of reason. He is right, there is no concensus on what is good and what is bad, what is cost effective and what is not, how to allocate costs and profits. What is true is that anyone with a agenda can disrupt anyone with plans: there is no cost, or very little, to organizing a NIMBY campaign. If we want people topay the full costs for what they get, this is one place we could start.


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