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Posted at 3:59 PM ET, 12/ 9/2010

McDonnell wants to borrow $3 billion for transportation needs

By Anita Kumar
Anita Kumar

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell announced Thursday that he will ask the legislature to spend $400 million immediately on roads and bridges while borrowing an additional $2.9 billion over the next three years for transportation.

McDonnell wants to spend $150 million from last year's budget surplus and $250 million recouped from an audit of the Virginia Department of Transportation, as well as issue two bonds totaling $2.8 billion.

"Over the past two decades, state support for transportation has not kept up with our growth as a Commonwealth. This has led to more congestion, longer commutes and missed economic opportunities,'' McDonnell said. "That trend must be reversed, and this is the time to do it. By putting $4 billion into transportation over the next three years, we will continue that progress, and get more Virginians back to work in the process.''

McDonnell will make a full proposal to the General Assembly on all his budget amendments Dec. 17. The General Assembly returns for its 46-day session Jan. 12.

McDonnell, the state's first Republican governor in eight years, has repeatedly pledged not to raise taxes. He said he will propose an additional $600 million for transportation over the next three years -- some of which would come from government reform initiatives, including his proposal to privatize the state's liquor stores.

He said he will support a constitutional amendment to permanently protect the transportation funding allocated to the Commonwealth Transportation Fund from transfers to the general fund, which pays for core services such as education, public safety and mental health.

Virginia has struggled over where to find money for its infrastructure, with Democrats and Republicans at odds over raising taxes or finding other ways to raise money. The state's transportation budget shortfall, in the billions, has led to thousands of job cuts and hundreds of unfinished projects.

Despite making transportation a top priority during the 2009 campaign, McDonnell did not propose a fix during this year's legislative session. As a candidate, McDonnell vowed to tackle transportation immediately and said he would propose ways to fund transportation "at some point during his first year."

During his campaign, McDonnell announced a lengthy plan to pay for Virginia's growing list of traffic woes without raising taxes -- privatizing liquor sales, adding tolls on Interstates 85 and 95, starting offshore oil drilling and setting aside a portion of sales tax collections in Northern Virginia to pay for regional projects. He said his proposal would generate about $1.5 billion a year over 10 years, but critics accused him of diverting money from schools and other core services.

McDonnell repeatedly criticized his Democratic opponent, state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (Bath), for failing to introduce a detailed transportation plan and instead pledging to establish a bipartisan commission to reach consensus on the issue.

McDonnell said his four top priorities for the 46-day legislative session will be to create jobs, make college more affordable and accessible and reform government, which includes his controversial proposal to sell the state's liquor stores.

By Anita Kumar  | December 9, 2010; 3:59 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell, Transportation  
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Comments

Interesting news.

Thank you for the report.

If most of this were to go into building rail, as studies have show, we taxpayers could get the biggest bang for our dollar.

The key question here: What type of borrowing is on the table.

Bonds?

Bonds to build rail could make very good common sense.

Other last century borrowing and spending for asphalt does NOT serve the taxpayer, or Virginia's citizens best.

We must move into the future. The smart future is 100 per cent renewable energy. Rail is the most efficient green solution. Bringing the Green jobs Virginia needs.

www.VoteJoinRun.US

http://www.youtube.com/user/IndependentGreens?feature=mhum#g/u

Posted by: CareyCampbell | December 9, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse

This week's Fairfax Times had an interesting point from state senator Richard Saslaw. Here we are with fuel taxes among the lowest in the U.S. but neighboring states have comparable gas prices. So therefore it's the fuel sellers now getting profits that could have gone to the state for transportation. This is a point that could resonate. Also, the amazing new report on cardiovascular impact of just a puff of cigarette smoke should make it even more of a no brainer to raise the cigarette tax. Help Va. farmers switch from tobacco to other crops like the up-and-coming antioxidant aronia. Use that tobacco tax revenue for transportation.

The liquor privatization scheme would be at the expense of public health and safety, particularly that of our youth. Not acceptable.

Posted by: anonymousid | December 10, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

While I agree that Virginia must improve its transportation infrastructure, I hope that Governor McDonnell other decision-makers use life-cycle budgeting when they make decisions about which projects to implement.

Too often infrastructure construction projects are seen as symbols of wasteful spending as projects come in extremely over budget (like Boston's Big Dig and some now fear with the Dulles Metrorail Project) and/or deceptive budgeting practices which leave taxpayers with no clear plan for how to pay for the investments (like the Hudson River train tunnel from New Jersey to New York which was recently scrapped after hundreds of millions were invested).

By using life-cycle budgeting, a concept supported by the Congressional Budget Office and a recent study out of MIT, decision-makers would have to account for the total costs of an infrastructure project over its entire lifespan including both construction and maintenance. By utilizing life-cycle budgeting, decision-makers would ensure that tax payers are getting the most for their money over the long-term.

Posted by: CZando | December 15, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

While I agree that Virginia must improve its transportation infrastructure, I hope that Governor McDonnell other decision-makers use life-cycle budgeting when they make decisions about which projects to implement.

Too often infrastructure construction projects are seen as symbols of wasteful spending as projects come in extremely over budget (like Boston's Big Dig and some now fear with the Dulles Metrorail Project) and/or deceptive budgeting practices which leave taxpayers with no clear plan for how to pay for the investments (like the Hudson River train tunnel from New Jersey to New York which was recently scrapped after hundreds of millions were invested).

By using life-cycle budgeting, a concept supported by the Congressional Budget Office and a recent study out of MIT, decision-makers would have to account for the total costs of an infrastructure project over its entire lifespan including both construction and maintenance. By utilizing life-cycle budgeting, decision-makers would ensure that tax payers are getting the most for their money over the long-term.

Posted by: CZando | December 15, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

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