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Virginia's Spirit of Compromise: No, No NoVa

Meanwhile, in Richmond, the state legislature plays yet another of its annual games of chicken over transportation funding.

Weeks and weeks of wrangling amount to this: The House wants to pay for new roads and transit by letting northern Virginians and Hampton Roads residents tax themselves and by taking money that now pays for schools, hospitals and other essential services and redirecting it toward transportation. The Senate, in contrast, wants to keep the general fund for the purposes it already serves while adding some small increases in taxes statewide -- a $150 surcharge on registration fees for new cars, for example -- to address the mess on the roads. And the two bodies, especially the Republicans in the two bodies, have been at loggerheads over the tax question since Napoleon ruled the continent, or something like that.

Now, in the last couple of weeks of the legislative session, a committee has been appointed to seek a compromise. And oh, what an open and searching compromise committee it is! Eleven members, of whom a whopping two are Democrats and all of one -- one! -- is from the state's most populous, most congested and most economically important region, northern Virginia. The hopes and frustrations of northern Virginians rest on Delegate Tim Hugo, a Republican from Fairfax, whose idea of seriously addressing the transportation issue is to put on his web site yet another plea for more teleworking -- the cynical old standby resorted to by politicians who want to look like they're on the cutting edge, but really just don't want to spend any money to fix the situation.

Gov. Tim Kaine continues to urge the legislature to come together on this, but there's been precious little evidence of any willingness to address northern Virginia's problems, and the latest moves only cement the notion that the rest of the state continues to view NoVa as a cash cow that needs no nourishment to keep on providing for good old RoVa.

By Marc Fisher |  February 16, 2007; 8:09 AM ET
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Don't care

Posted by: Anonymous | February 16, 2007 8:23 AM

Is this all you got, Marc?

Posted by: slm | February 16, 2007 11:37 AM

Hey Marc, are you going to help Fenty hand out condoms?

Posted by: Bumpy | February 16, 2007 11:48 AM

I have not seen anything that says under the House proposal schools, hospitals, et. al. are getting shortchanged. So WTF?Transportation is not part of the General Fund? Unless you are of the Liberal persuasion that deems more money for schools, always and forever a good thing then I guess I am not seeeing the problem.

Posted by: Stick | February 16, 2007 12:06 PM

I think Governor Kaine and the Democrats have shown a willingness to compromise by agreeing to the great eyesore and traffic mess of an above-ground subway that's going to afflict Tyson's Corner for a decade. Republicans who choose inaction and deadlock over compromise are going to find themselves on the wrong end of upcoming campaigns; Northern Virginia voters who are willing to pay higher taxes are probably willing to contribute to candidates who will act on dissolving some of the traffic molasses.

We need more transit, more roads, and higher-density zoning to create a more livable environment. An extra ten minutes a day works out to an extra week a year for people to spend with their family or on personal pursuits; voters can do this math, and will vote for politicans who can too.

Posted by: lart | February 16, 2007 12:15 PM

As a transplant from SEVA, I feel comfy saying that I can't think of a single person from down there who views NOVA as a cash cow.

Posted by: Greg | February 16, 2007 12:16 PM

I for one dont think there is an answer to our traffic problem unless its just denser, living in close. You could have so many Metro cars that it would be more conveyor belt than train and it wouldnt be enough. There is very little to no room for more roads. parhaps if we restricted drivers licenses or even cars but I doubt that would help. We just got too many people who live to far away.

Posted by: Stick | February 16, 2007 1:06 PM

Northern Virginia provides 43.4 percent of State income with 27 percent of the total State population. This area covers Planning District 8 which includes Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax City, Falls Church, Loudoun, Manassas, Manassas Park, plus Fairfax and Prince William counties. In return, we receive back from Richmond less than 20 percent of the revenue we generate for regional needs. This is one reason that real property taxes are as high as they are. Glad you and your buds in SEVA feel comfy, Greg, but a thank you would be nice.

Posted by: MOOOOOOOOOOOOO! | February 16, 2007 1:35 PM

Unless Northern Virginia secedes, this problem will never realistically go away. RoVa is living on NoVa welfare, plain and simple.

Posted by: tampadave | February 16, 2007 2:41 PM

Wow. Get over yourself and get the chip off your shoulder. While I, having lived in NOVA for seven years, am acutely aware of both the taxes and the traffic, the point was rather my differences with the statement that the rest of VA has a common, negative mindset towards this region.

Certainly, we appreciate that Northern Virginia has been an economic driver for the state, particularly since the mid-90's. (...and, yes, NOVA was great before then, too).

The traffic problem, if you've spent much time in Southeastern Virginia/Hampton Roads, isn't much better. Likewise, folks down there aren't happy with Richmond's current distribution of funds. Be thankful that VDOT at least has been getting the signature project for NOVA, the Springfield Interchange, right. They did much worse for SEVA with the Mercury Boulevard/I-64 interchange project in Hampton.

Please forgive me if I tried to downplay a few of the sentiments Fisher wrote earlier. I just found the characterization to be inaccurate. Glad you are a dutiful taxpaying citizen, MOOOOOOOOOOOOO!, just like my family and friends in SEVA. A little understanding that we're all in the same boat together would be nice.

Posted by: Greg | February 16, 2007 3:23 PM

Marc, don't forget about the Republican Delegate from Fairfax, David Albo, killing the smoking ban without even a vote in the House subcommittee. I know you disagree with general bans, but I think we all agree it deserved a vote. And Ebbin's bill on redistricting? Rejected out of hand by the House. All in all, an embarrassing session in Richmond.

Posted by: | February 16, 2007 3:39 PM

Well, we may all be in the same boat, but clearly some of us feel confined below decks chained to an oar while much of the state takes turns water skiing.

Posted by: MOOOOOOOO! | February 16, 2007 4:03 PM

I have an idea. Let's increase Metro funding so they can put more buses on the street. That should take care of the congestion problem.

Too soon?

Posted by: RL | February 16, 2007 4:26 PM

Then we can merge non-monumental DC and NOVA into one State, which will have the highest percapita income and revenue in the country. ROVA can co broke on its own.

Oh and for those of you choking about merging w/DC, your population would dominate by a 10 to 20-1 ratio, depending on how much of NOVA secedes. So DC's quirks wouldn't make any difference.

Now that would rock.

Posted by: Just secede baby! | February 16, 2007 4:43 PM

The difference between Democrats and Republicans is that, after promising in their campaigns not to raise taxes, the Republicans sometimes honor their promise.

Posted by: gitarre | February 16, 2007 5:00 PM

Greg, I have been in the Hampton/Norfolk/Williamsburg/Richmond area many, many times and believe me when I tell you that your area's "rush hour" traffic does not compare with NoVA. The traffic on 64 no comparison.

Posted by: Tourist | February 16, 2007 8:01 PM

Greg, I have been in the Hampton/Norfolk/Williamsburg/Richmond area many, many times and believe me when I tell you that your area's "rush hour" traffic does not compare with NoVA. The traffic on 64 no comparison.

Posted by: Tourist | February 16, 2007 8:02 PM

Greg, rush hour traffic on 64 between Norfolk and Richmond is no comparison to the traffic in NoVA.

Posted by: Been There | February 16, 2007 8:04 PM

"I think Governor Kaine and the Democrats have shown a willingness to compromise by agreeing to the great eyesore and traffic mess of an above-ground subway that's going to afflict Tysons Corner for a decade."

Sorry, but rail access to Reston, Dulles and eastern Loudoun County -- remember, the line won't stop at Dulles, but go a few stations west -- should be a higher priority than worrying about Tysons. Better to build that section aboveground and get the entire project done than cave in to wealthy Tysons businesses and risk delays that might end up halting the line at Wiehle Avenue -- if it ever got that far.

Posted by: Vincent | February 17, 2007 12:29 AM


You're acting as if you're surprised that the legislature FUBAR'ed this one again? In this case, past results ARE indicative of future performance.

Every article I read about this makes me glad that I moved to MD three years ago.

Posted by: Joe in SS | February 17, 2007 5:53 PM

i am homosexual, the rush hour traffic frustrates me, when will they bring metro to leeesburg

Posted by: bob | February 18, 2007 1:17 AM

Vincent.. We should keep moving on the fast track... no matter what the consequences are down the road a few years.

We can just spend more later to fix the mess we should of done correctly the first time....

Metro needs to go under ground through Tyson's!

Posted by: GL | February 18, 2007 9:36 PM

Virginia should tax car sales like we do in maryland.

Posted by: AndyMD | February 18, 2007 10:30 PM

I'm not positive but i hear Virginia doesn't tax car sales. Virginia should tax car sales and use that money for roads.

Posted by: AndyMD | February 18, 2007 10:31 PM

The first poster must be from Richmond.

Posted by: Dumfries | February 18, 2007 10:44 PM

Marky, stick to fabricated stories on shoelaces. That's where your talents lay.

Posted by: Who Cares | February 18, 2007 11:08 PM

Marc LUUVES to beat up on VA. Much more fun than reporting on how Metro's killing off pedestrians faster than Marines in Baghdad.

Posted by: No one cares | February 19, 2007 8:48 AM

Living here in the piedmont, I'm happy to take NoVa's money. After all, we have to put up with all the NoVa HS kids & law students who called Arlington home for two years to become "in-state" who end up at UVA and add to the traffic and congestion down here. If you sent more of them to Mason, I'd take a smaller share of taxes here.

Posted by: Stormy | February 19, 2007 9:46 AM

Gee, Stormy, I was not aware that UVA students were responsible for the sprawl extending north on Route 29.

Posted by: Meh | February 19, 2007 11:11 AM

While I didn't go to the law school, I can't imagine that the few hundred students that make up the school can have that much of an impact on 29 sprawl. Also, while tensions can rise between UVA students of all school and the surrounding community, the Piedmont area would be nothing without all that UVA brings. (I say this as someone who was born and bred in the Piedmont area.)

Posted by: UVA Grad | February 19, 2007 12:18 PM

First, to say that SEVA does not have serious traffic issues is not an accurate statement. Yes, it is more congested in NOVA, but that does not make the problems there any less valid.

Second, VA does tax car sales, and in addition, the county govt' takes a big chunk of $ every year. Fairfax is not hurting in the amount of tax dollars it is taking in.

To say that one part of the state needs another part more than the other does is ignorant of history and the concept of community. VA has always functioned as a whole, and that is why remains so prosperous.

Posted by: Steve | February 19, 2007 5:11 PM

GL: Metro access to western Fairfax, Dulles airport and eastern Loudoun is more important than Tysons, believe it or not. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Posted by: Vincent | February 19, 2007 6:28 PM

Let's face it, the SEVA/NOVA divide is not only economic but political and cultural as well. NOVA should have left with West least those folks would be grateful and Robert Byrd would have taken care of our roads a long time ago!

Posted by: Chris | February 19, 2007 8:00 PM

Let's face it, the SEVA/NOVA divide is not only economic but political and cultural as well. NOVA should have left with West least those folks would be grateful and Robert Byrd would have taken care of our roads a long time ago!

Posted by: Chris | February 19, 2007 8:02 PM

Howabout those that want to secede just going back to whatever Yankee s**thole they came from? Oh yeah, there are no jobs there.

Posted by: Stick | February 20, 2007 7:32 AM

Meh, thanks for reading! If the U could house more of its students, then there'd be more housing available in closer to the heart of Charlottesville for people so we wouldn't have the entirety of explosion of growth that has happened heading up 29. And the law student point was more of a dig that young college grads come from all over the country, plop down in Arlington, work in DC for a year or two, establish residency and then get "in-state" consideration for admission to UVA Law, which doesn't confer a financial benefit, but may draw away from people who've been residents all their lives.

But my main point was, and UVA Grad seemed to get it, we're a state. We're not three (or more) parts cobbled together. I drive the NoVa roads to visit my sister in Alexandria, and head down I-64 to visit friends in Virginia Beach. I want those roads to be good, just like I want some kind of bypass around the Gainesville sprawl on 29, and others want a true bypass around Charlottesville on 29, like they've done with Madison Heights and Lynchburg. We certainly need to look out for each other, because the folks across the river in DC and Maryland won't!

Posted by: Stormy | February 20, 2007 10:23 AM

I'm patient. At some point NOVA (allied with the Hampton Roads folks) will take over the Virginia legislature and turn ROVA into what it should be -- a serfdom.

Posted by: Loudoun Voter | February 20, 2007 12:32 PM

Oh, please with the UVA law students. If someone *can* get into UVA law, they're not really going to care one whit whether or not they're paying in-state tuition when they're going to one of the top 10 law schools in the nation. Anyone who graduates with a pulse is practically guaranteed a job.

I "plopped down" in Arlington 6 years ago and have remained. I'm graduating from law school in D.C. in May (with a good job). My husband and child and I are tax-paying Virginians just like anyone else...get over yourself.

Posted by: Graduating law student | February 20, 2007 1:47 PM

Graduating law student,

Congrats on earning your degree. If you had taken the time to find out, it's not a tuition break that in-state students get, it's an admission-standards break. In-state averages are lower than out-of-state averages. The tuition is the same, in- or out-of-state. Sure, some of these people end up back in NoVa, but just as many end up in NYC, Philly, LA and other legal hotbeds. They're gaming the system, and not taking an interest in improving the communities they're in.

Posted by: Stormy | February 21, 2007 9:12 AM

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