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Kaine Proposes Changes to Transportation Bill

Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine (D) today threw the transportation plan back at the General Assembly with major changes, but he said the Republican House speaker will back them as a compromise.

Kaine said in a statement: "I am offering substantial amendments to the transportation legislation that will address three critical issues: ensuring that the regional plans in our two largest metropolitan areas are workable and acceptable to local elected officials; ensuring that rural areas get a fair share of transportation dollars; and ensuring that core services are protected and that the debt contained in the package is supported in a fiscally responsible manner.

House Bill 3202, sponsored by Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) and passed by the General Assembly, can be seen here.

These are some highlights from Kaine about how he wants to amend it when the legislature reconvenes on April 4:

-- Statewide Funding. Authorize $3 billion in new 25-year debt for highway construction, supported by dedication of one-third of insurance premiums to existing and new debt payments (frees up construction funding paying existing debt); increase the percentage of bonds going to transit capital from 15.7 percent to 20 percent; remove the prohibition on using bond proceeds for urban and secondary roads; dedicate 3 cents of recordation taxes to transportation, with 2 cents going to transit funding and 1 cent to go to highway maintenance; dedicate two thirds of the state's surplus revenues to transportation; equalize diesel fuel tax, from 16 cents to 17.5 cents, and dedicate it to highway maintenance.

Northern Virginia funding. Authorize $400 million annually in locally and regionally imposed taxes and fees; require six of nine local jurisdictions to empower the regional authority to impose seven taxes and fees; gives the localities the option of three additional revenue sources. (Some local jurisdictions have chafed at having to vote on raising local taxes to support the regional transportation improvements.)

Additional items. Createe a lockbox on new revenues (if transportation funds are diverted to other purposes, revenues in the bill cease); maintain the current Commonwealth Transportation Board appointments by the governor, rather than diminish the governor's power over transportation by shifting control to the legislature.

You can read the full text of Kaine's statement by clicking here. A separate, two-page pdf file from the governor's office lists where the money would come from and how it would be spent under his revised proposal.

Two things have to happen for this to be a done deal: The General Assembly must approve it at the one-day session, and Northern Virginia localities would have to approve raising the revenue to support the regional transportation authority.

By Robert Thomson  |  March 26, 2007; 2:27 PM ET
Categories:  Transportation Politics  
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Well, everyone here is always ragging on about keeping our tax dollars here; now is the chance for the people and the elected officials to put up or STFU. Of course, since they have the committment to priciples of a wharf rat they actually want legislators in the rest of the state do their dirty work so they can b**ch and moan about the government in Richmond.

Posted by: Stick | March 27, 2007 7:42 AM | Report abuse

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