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Virginia Notebook: Transportation Predictions

Tim Craig

So what's going to happen next week during the special session on transportation? Probably not much, but who knows? So we are not even going to try to make a prediction. We'll leave that to others. Here is a sampling of predictions -- as a well as a few partisan shots -- from current and former state legislators and lobbyists.

Del. Adam P. Ebbin (D-Alexandria): "I predict no agreement. House Republicans won't compromise with the governor and the Senate. ..... We will be in for two days, then out for three weeks and then back in for a couple days" in July.

House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith (R-Salem): "I don't have any idea. It will be interesting to see if the Democrats have a coalition to coalesce around one plan instead of having 14 or 15 different plans, but I don't see that at this point. But maybe they will let us do something on Northern Virginia. [Democrats] have a governor and a majority of one of the Houses; let's see if they can exhibit leadership. Or they can get out of the way and let us fix Northern Virginia."

Del. David B. Albo (R-Fairfax), chairman of the Courts of Justice Committee: "I haven't had much luck getting the speaker or my caucus to do any statewide increase. I predict my caucus passes out local plans for Northern Virginia and then requires [VDOT] to do an efficiency audit."

Sen. J. Chapman Petersen (D-Fairfax): "I think we will report something from the Senate, and I predict it won't be a straight party line. We will get some Republican support. As to what version the bill will be, I don't know."

Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick (Prince William), chairman of the Virginia Republican Party: "There is a lot of people who want to go to Richmond who want to do something about transportation. But I don't think there are a lot of people who agree on a whole heck of a lot. It's not a partisan thing. Democrats don't agree with Democrats. Republicans don't agree with Republicans. Northern Virginia guys don't agree with Northern Virginia guys. Hampton Roads people don't agree with Hampton Roads people."

Sen. R. Edward Houck (D-Spotsylvania), chairman of the Education and Health Committee: "I think the governor and at least the Democrats are going to put forth some alternatives and hope we can get some compromise. The Senate is going to have a plan. The governor is going to have a plan. In fact, there may be multiple plans in the Senate, so there are going to be options for people to choose from."

Del. Clarke N. Hogan (R-Charlotte): "I think it is too early to predict. I think if you were betting, I don't see how next week we can move from where we are, which is nowhere, to a finish line. But I don't see any reason why this special session will end. It may go on several months or it may lead to some consensus that we may not work out until January. It is going to take some time to work out, so it is time to be patient."

Former state senator Martin E. Williams, a moderate Republican from Newport News: "I wouldn't predict anything monumental. You can't criticize people for being opposed to increasing the revenue stream when the price of gas is what it is and the economy is what it is. You just can't tax yourself out this problem. I think we have dug such a big hole with transportation we will never be able to fix it. We need a whole new vision, something very different, such as making people telecommute one day a week. We should have done something on transportation six or seven years ago."

Sen. Charles J. Colgan (D-Prince William), chairman of the Finance Committee: "It doesn't look like any bill will make it all the way through. The Senate bill may just pass with 21 votes from Democrats. I hope we can get some Republicans, but right now it doesn't look too optimistic to me."

Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II (R-Fairfax): "Very little is going to happen. We are too fractured. There is a strong and growing sense that taxes are a horrific idea as we deal with what feels like a recession and the natural anti-tax sentiment that a lot of us have, but I understand a lot of Democrats feel differently. I am afraid that in sort of a Democratic temper tantrum, they just don't consider anything else."

Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw: (D-Fairfax): "Right now, It does not appear to be heading in the right direction at this time. That is all I want to say. You can't do this for free."

Bob Chase, executive director of the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance: "To survive in the transportation arena, one must be an optimist. New regional and statewide funding is supported by a majority of legislators in each body. If every legislator is given the opportunity to vote on the floor, the General Assembly will enact or lay the groundwork to enact such funding next week."

Charlie Davis, who has been a lobbyist in Richmond since the early 1980s: "At the end of the day, maybe putting a 'lockbox' on transportation funds, maybe a local taxing authority, but that is it. Give Kaine credit for pushing for something. The Republicans can be tagged as obstructionists but ..... Kaine came back with almost the identical plan that was shot down last year, so which is more foolhardy? But the session will provide ample opportunity for a lot of social interaction to discuss the presidential campaign and enjoy some wonderful cuisine at the Capitol snack bar."

By Tim Craig  |  June 18, 2008; 1:46 PM ET
Categories:  Abusive Driver Fees , Election 2007 , Election 2009 , General Assembly 2008 , Ken Cuccinelli , Tim Craig , Timothy M. Kaine , Transportation , Virginia Notebook  
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