Those of us who live in the Washington, D.C. Area know that it is rated as the second most congested urban area in the nation. We spend more and more time in our motor vehicles, consuming more and more gasoline and augmenting the pollution.
I am no partisan of Virginia’s new Governor, Timothy M. Kaine. Truth told, I didn’t vote for him, although I had to swallow hard to vote for his opponent. But Kaine wisely is making transportation his priority issue.
Both Houses of the Virginia General Assembly have strong Republican majorities and are conservative. A majority of the Republicans in the House of Delegates are generally anti-tax, although thirteen broke ranks and helped to enact former Governor Mark R. Warner’s unnecessary $1 billion tax increase.
What I do not comprehend is the House of Delegates defeat of a measure which would have permitted those of us in Northern Virginia to vote ourselves a very small tax increase for transportation if we wished to do so. I also am anti-tax. I even vote against most bond issues. And I certainly do not favor raising the income tax.
But why not let us vote? If we think the transportation crisis is so severe that we are willing to tax ourselves to attempt to solve it, why should we not be given the opportunity to do so? I will wager, if we get that chance, a transportation-only tax increase would pass by at least 65% to 35% in Northern Virginia.
Meanwhile, there are three different transportation plans floating around the Virginia General Assembly. One is a Senate plan which calls for $4 billion in transportation projects in both Northern Virginia and the Hampton Roads or Tidewater Area. Another is a House of Delegates plan, calling for about $2 billion. The third is Governor Kaine’s plan, which is sort of midway between the State Senate and the House of Delegates plans.
There is considerable difference in the proposed financing of these plans. The Senate plan has among its features a 5% tax increase on wholesale gasoline purchases. According to WASHINGTON TIMES reporters Seth McLaughlin and Christina Bellantoni the House plan would use part of the multibillion dollar surplus which the State of Virginia currently enjoys while financing the balance of the House plan with debt. The Governor’s plan has so far been ignored as the House has passed its plan and the Senate has passed its plan.