Conservative Viewpoints

"Government is not the solution…it is the problem" -Ronald Reagan

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Pressure on for transportatin solution

Posted by Stephen on March 14, 2007

Governor Tim Kaine and House Speaker William Howell are scheduled to meet on Thursday to address possible amendments and compromises to the latest transportation bill. The GOP bill promises to bring in 1 billion dollars a year into highway, transit, and rail systems across the state.

The two men are hopeful they can reach a compromise, avoiding a possible veto. Republicans say if no solution is reached this year they will tell Kaine not to expect to address the issue during his term as Governor.

“This is the year for transportation. If we don’t act this year, I don’t think we act for a number of years,” said Sen. Kenneth W. Stolle (R-Virginia Beach), who helped craft the legislation.

Republicans feel they have the edge and say that the bill will be dead on arrival if Kaine attempts any major changes. The Republican-drafted transportation bill relies heavily on borrowing and regional tax increases in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads to finance new highways and mass transit.

The 105-page bill calls for using $2.5 billion in bonds to be paid back from the state’s general fund. The plan would raise auto and heavy truck registration fees and increase fines for bad drivers. It also would give officials in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads permission to raise taxes and fees to create a pool of transportation money.

Kaine calls the plan insufficient.

Kaine is concerned that the use of general fund revenue will negatively impact education funds, social services and environmental programs. The GOP says the bill forces responsible decision making, choices and priorities when making spending decisions.

Kaine says he is willing to compromise, but has called for major changes. “We want this bill to be a solution, and that’s what we want these amendments to do,” said Kaine.  On Tuesday Howell said the House would be willing to consider Kaine’s suggestions for tweaking regional funding plans. Howell declined to rule out having the General Assembly, instead of local governments, enact some of the regional tax and fee increases in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia.

However, Howell is concerned about Kaine’s ability to compromise. “We compromised and compromised, and he hasn’t compromised a bit yet,” Howell said of Kaine.

Stephen Winslow is the executive editor of Conservative Viewpoints.


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