Cuccinelli mum on transportation plan’s fate

RICHMOND — Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II is no fan of the $1.4 billion-a-year transportation funding plan that passed the General Assembly last month.

But the Republican gubernatorial hopeful this week stressed the need for some sort of solution in a message sent after Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) announced that he would not run for governor as an independent.

“I agree with the Lt. Governor that we need a Governor who is focused on solving the problems we face like implementing a comprehensive transportation plan that addresses our long-term needs. . .,” Cuccinelli said in the statement.

Cuccinelli gave tepid support for the original, $845 million-a-year funding overhaul proposed by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) in January, just before the start of the General Assembly session. By the time legislators had amended the plan to make it larger and more laden with new revenue, Cuccinelli was blasting its potential to impose a “massive tax increase.”

Democrats have been pressing Cuccinelli to say if he would seek to undo the funding deal if elected governor; so far he has declined to say.

Democrats say Cuccinelli is ducking a question of critical importance to the state economy. They note that in 2011, Cuccinelli had spoken about how the uncertain fate of “Obamacare” was making it hard for businesses to plan and, therefore, hurting the economy.

“Ken Cuccinelli should end uncertainty for Virginia businesses immediately by making a clear public statement that he will not repeal Virginia’s bipartisan transportation compromise,” said Brian Coy, spokesman for the Democratic Party of Virginia.

But Cuccinelli’s campaign said he cannot take a position because the details of the bill aren’t settled. McDonnell still has a chance to amend the legislation, and the General Assembly will have the opportunity to approve or reject any amendments.

“Until Governor McDonnell addresses the transportation bill, the final legislation and the ultimate impact it will have on our roadways is unknown,” Anna Nix, a Cuccinelli campaign spokeswoman, said via e-mail. “We do know that regardless of the final bill there is more work to be done to address our serious transportation issues, especially in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. After the veto session, Attorney General Cuccinelli will continue to discuss his comprehensive plans to tackle the fundamentals of Virginia’s transportation problems.”

Cuccinelli is running to succeed McDonnell, who is term-limited, against former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe. McAuliffe supports the transportation plan.

Laura Vozzella covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.

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