Vote Puts N.Va. in a Bind, Officials Say
Chief among the transportation projects that stand to suffer is the extension of Metrorail to Tysons Corner and on to Dulles Airport, a $3.2 billion plan that regional leaders call their top priority.
The Dulles rail plan calls for the federal government to pay half, Virginia to pay one-fourth, and Fairfax and Loudoun counties to join together on the rest. Elected officials have identified ways to raise some of the money, but the referendum was thought to be the project's financial savior.
"The Dulles project is going to have to get done," Milliken said. "A way will have to be found. I have no idea what that is. There is no Plan B."
Opponents of the referendum said they were bracing for a backlash from supporters of the tax increase, who have argued that their foes offered no solution of their own for the region's transportation problems.
State Del. James K. "Jay" O'Brien (R-Fairfax), who was elected last night to a new Senate seat and who opposed the tax increase, said he will fight for legislation next year to increase the amount of money Northern Virginia gets from the state's treasury.
"We need to change the funding formula to bring more existing transportation dollars to the high density areas," O'Brien said. Because of the referendum, he said, "rural legislators can no longer say it's not an issue."
But the defeat of the tax increase is likely to make it harder for Northern Virginia to get a better deal from the General Assembly, according to lawmakers and local officials, especially now, when the state budget is in a crisis. Warner fired 1,800 state workers last month and slashed nearly $900 million from the state's budget, which has a $2 billion shortfall.
For more than a decade, lawmakers from southern and rural parts of Virginia have refused to give Northern Virginia more money for transportation, and they are likely to see yesterday's vote as an indication that the transportation crisis has been overstated.
"Richmond doesn't have the money. The federal government doesn't have the money. Our local governments don't have the money," said Nancy Lewis, a lobbyist for the Fairfax Chamber. "So what's the answer?"
Stewart Schwartz, the executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, whose group fought against its traditional allies in the Democratic Party to defeat the tax increase, said the state should push for growth management changes that can make a difference quickly.
"Tomorrow, we roll up our sleeves," he said, "to fight for better land use practices, going back to the General Assembly to tie any additional transportation funding to where and how we develop."
© 2002 The Washington Post Company
Stewart Schwartz of Coalition for Smarter Growth, far right, celebrates with other tax foes at an Arlington restaurant.
(Rich Lipski -- The Washington Post)
|___ Sales Tax Referendum ___ If passed, the Nov. 5 regional referendum would increase the non-food sales tax by half a cent to raise money for transportation.|
_____Sales Tax Ref._____
Business Groups In N.Va. Form PACs (The Washington Post, Nov 20, 2002)
Va. Still Seeks Transportation Solutions (The Washington Post, Nov 10, 2002)
Businesses Worry About Impact (The Washington Post, Nov 7, 2002)
Warner Sets Sights Beyond Tax Defeat (The Washington Post, Nov 7, 2002)
Resounding 'No' Sends A Message to Leaders (The Washington Post, Nov 7, 2002)