Due to an editing error, a July 5 editorial on Virginia transportation proposals mistakenly attributed to Timothy M. Kaine, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, a policy stance of Jerry W. Kilgore, his Republican rival. It is Mr. Kilgore who advocates letting different regions issue their own bonds, enter into public-private partnerships and hold referendums to raise taxes. (Published 07/06/05).
ENDURING campaign hoopla at a Dulles airport hotel, a large cast of solution-hungry Northern Virginia business people, planners and local leaders recently sat primed for the "unveiling" of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Timothy M. Kaine's "bold plan to tackle transportation in 2006." Like the "plan" announced by his Republican opponent, Jerry W. Kilgore, Mr. Kaine's transportation package ticks off a batch of likable ideas but punts when it comes to proposing any immediate, sizable or long-term infusion of additional money to get Virginia moving.
State Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr. (R-Winchester), who is running for governor as an independent, is the only one in the race calling for swift action now. He would convene a special legislative session on transportation, as Gov. Gerald L. Baliles (D) did nearly 20 years ago; not since then has the state faced up to its transportation needs. Mr. Potts says he would press the lawmakers until they produced a long-range financing package. That's what it will take, and the longer Virginia leaders dodge and dawdle, the costlier the solution will be.
Mr. Kaine's plan adds little to what he already has been saying. He would shift some existing general fund taxes to provide more money for Northern Virginia and would use money from budget surpluses (assuming they continue to occur) for one-time transportation projects. But in the strongest terms yet, Mr. Kaine pledged to veto any new tax or fee for transportation or any increase in existing levels during his four-year watch. His mushy, leave-it-to-the-locals proposal would give different regions the power to determine their own priorities (fair enough) and come up with their own solutions (do-it-yourself). They could issue their own bonds, enter into public-private partnerships and, if they wish, hold referendums to raise taxes.
Neither Mr. Kaine nor Mr. Kilgore offers any support for an increase in the most natural transportation "user fee," the gasoline tax. Virginia needs tens of billions of dollars for transportation over the coming decades, and the two party nominees are sidestepping the hard calls.