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Plan Would Restore Transportation Authority

Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine today called for a special session of the General Assembly on June 23 to consider his plan to restore the revenue taken away by a court decision earlier this year.

It also would restore the spending power of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority. The authority's sources of revenue -- money that was going to be spent on road and transit projects across the region -- vanished with the court decision.

Kaine says his fix would raise over $1 billion annually throughout Virginia by fiscal year 2012 without increasing the gas tax.

You can read the details of Kaine's plan in this statement from the governor's office.

Kaine's plan not only raises money statewide but also includes taxes specific to the most congested areas, Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.

The most prominent feature for Northern Virginians is a one percent increase in the sales tax, except for purchases of food or drugs. That money would go to the transportation authority, which had picked out a list of much-needed projects to invest in.

Unfortunately, the authority has spent much of this year explaining how people can get their tax money back after the court struck down the original sources of revenue that would have financed the projects. The authority still exists, but has little impact without money to spend.

Now it will be up to the General Assembly to get this important program back on track.

Kaine will be hosting a town hall meeting in Woodbridge on Tuesday night to discuss his plan. This session is scheduled for 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Dr. A.J. Ferlazzo Building Auditorium, 15941 Donald Curtis Drive.

What's your reaction to the Kaine plan?

By Robert Thomson  |  May 12, 2008; 1:15 PM ET
Categories:  Transportation Politics  
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A 1% sales tax increase? Ouch. That's huge. Definitely not worth it.

Posted by: Bob | May 12, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

All the Supreme Court said is that it's unconstitutional for the General Assembly to let the NVTA decide which taxes to impose. The idea of the authority itself is fine as long as the General Assembly and the Governor agree which taxes it must levy...and of course that's exactly why there's a problem, because the people in Richmond don't have the cojones to enact a new tax or to raise an existing tax on their own (they'd rather point to someone else and say "blame him").

I have no objection to raising the gas tax because it seems to me to be quite fair: If you buy gas in Virginia, then you must have used Virginia's roads to get to that gas station. I don't relish the idea of paying more for gas, but since I recognize that funding cuts elsewhere are never going to happen, it seems to me that some sort of tax is a necessary evil.

Posted by: Rich | May 12, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Well for starters, the transportation authority's list of projects is a joke. VDOT is already moving ahead with more critical projects such as widening I-95 between Newington and the Ocaquan. PWC is also moving ahead with a number of projects on its own, particularly along Minnieville Rd. In comparison the list put forward by the transportation authority seems like a grab bag of low priority projects that couldn't get local or VDOT support. If this is what will be funded by higher state taxes than I say NO!

I do not object to pyaing for transportation improvements, I do object to neighpvorhood pork thinly disguised as a serious transportation project. Bus shelters? Get an umbrella.

Posted by: Woodbridge VA | May 12, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Even in this area over 90% of people are drivers. I am not paying a 1% sales tax to be used for sidewalks, bus shelters, bike paths,

We need road funding to be at least 80% not the 50% that is proposed.

The 1% sales tax option was already defeated in this area before anyway

Posted by: get real | May 12, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

They are going to re-instate that ridiculous grantor's tax on home sales, are they?

Posted by: Home owner | May 12, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

This is going to be another huge waste of taxpayers' money. The NVTA list of projects was a joke - a very expensive joke. This is going to be more of the same.

Most of these projects will not solve ANY transportation problem, and yet will cost millions of dollars.

For example, consider the incredibly expensive trolley along Columbia Pike in Arlington. Even Arlington leaders tout the project as less about transportation an more about encouraging "upscale development" (as if Arlington needs more of that) along Columbia Pike. If Arlington taxpayers want to build fancy trolley lines to replace existing bus service, fine! But it's insulting to have the whole region pay for this boondoggle.

There are many other silly examples of waste in the NVTA list - it's like the local politicians just couldn't help themselves. My fear is that the governor's current plan is more of the same - lots of new taxes, lots of silly projects, but few real benefits.

And by the way, can someone clue in the governor, that a 1% sales tax increase is very significant to most people? He acts as if it's nothing... but most families here are already dealing with an outrageous cost of living and spiraling prices on everything. I've lost a great deal of respect for the governor over this past year due to the endless stream of tax increases he's proposed. Enough already!

Posted by: Robert | May 12, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Our last governor gave VA the biggest income tax increase in the history of Virginia. This could be the biggest single user fee in the history of Virginia. Both Govs have been Democrats. Is there a trend?

Secondly, if this tax is going to be used for things other than roads, and especially if it will be used for the proposed HOT lanes over the WW Bridge, he can take his tax and shove it.

If, on the other hand, it would be used to build capacity for everyone to use (that would be the 90% in the region), that would be great. The problem is that this is seldom the case, especially in this area and with the leaders we have had.

Finally - "Kaine will be hosting a town hall meeting in Woodbridge on Tuesday night to discuss his plan."

Starts at 7. This is great - for those non-HOV commuters who can get there by that time.

Posted by: Dave! | May 12, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

The Governor is unwise to trust the NVTA with public funds.

The NVTA's record of poor decisions, bad management, and violating the Constitution makes the NVTA unworthy of the public's trust.

Even the NVTA's strongest supporters have strongly criticized the organization's spending priorities.

It's time to abolish this anti-democratic organization.

Posted by: Bud Miller | May 12, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Let's call this pig what it is: a way to fund Metro to Dulles.

We won't get the other improvements as the new rail lines sucks down cash (except for Kaine's special pay-to-HOV lanes on the beltway).

Let's remember who benefits from metro-to-Dulles -- landowners.

So Virginians get to pay more on sales tax and selling their houses to benefit corporate landowners in Tysons and Reston.

Posted by: charlie | May 12, 2008 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Spend the 5 to 10 billion that was going to be spent on rail to the Airport and use that for roads all over NoVA so everybody can benfit from the money...

Posted by: Woodbridge | May 12, 2008 9:50 PM | Report abuse

NoVA needs to declare Independence from Richmond and become it's own state. We will never be treated fairly if our money has to go to Richmond first.

Posted by: Eastern Prince William | May 12, 2008 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Please help us abolish the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) by reviewing and signing our new petition (VERY NEW, just started this morning.)

The link to the petition is:

Additional background on the reasons to abolish the NVTA can be found here:

Thank you for your consideration.

Posted by: Bud Miller | May 14, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

"NoVA needs to declare Independence from Richmond and become it's own state. We will never be treated fairly if our money has to go to Richmond first."

Considering that the Constitution provides that for a new state to be carved out of an existing state's territory, the existing state must give consent, I suggest you not hold your breath waiting for that!

(The admission of the counties that refer to themselves as West Virginia was based on a legal fiction created by Congress during the War Between the States. But since Virginia rebelled, Congress was able to make Virginia's consent a condition of the state's re-admission to the Union.)

Posted by: Rich | May 14, 2008 6:30 PM | Report abuse

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