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At least I-95 tolls are off the table in the transportation funding plan that’s likely going nowhere.
That’s a relief. Whew!
The House on Tuesday advanced legislation similar to that proposed by Gov. Bob McDonnell. The bill that cleared the house shot down tolls on I-95 south of Fredericksburg and rejected the governor’s plan to tax alternative fuel vehicles. McDonnell called these “friendly amendments.”
The House, however, kept intact plans to raise extra road revenues through increasing the state sales tax from 5 percent to 5.8 percent and increasing the current allocation to roads to .75 percent from .5 percent.
Hanover’s own Del. Chris Peace was behind the anti-toll amendment and should be applauded for his efforts, as few Virginians thought tolling would seriously help our transportation cause.
The situation in the Senate was much more tense. Two competing roads bills became roadkill and McDonnell’s plan was stonewalled.
Shortly afterward, the Herald-Progress’ email lit up with the political rhetoric that comes along with a General Assembly session.
“Rather than engaging in a debate on how to move forward with tackling our transportation problems, it is apparent that the Senate Democrats…are once again content to risk our continued economic prosperity and our citizens’ quality of life,” McDonnell said in a statement following the votes. “Sadly, the Senate Democrats appear to be the ‘Party of No.’”
They should probably first clear the copyright office to make sure Congressional Republicans don’t have a patent on that phrase.
In this case, Senate Democrats have erred in not considering the Governor’s plan or presenting another alternative. It came down to politics, pure and simple, which is ironic in that Senate Dems claimed to be the high ground party by letting Republicans delay a vote on welfare recipient drug testing because one of their members was absent. (Republicans pushed through a redistricting plan when a Democrat was attending the inauguration in January.)
The Herald-Progress had previously applauded McDonnell’s willingness to raise independent revenue streams to fund transportation. Surprisingly, the plan passed the Republican-controlled House as well. Though the legislation wasn’t perfect, it was a step toward a long-term solution.
Now, we’re left with little to hope for. If only AAA worked on dead legislation…