Getting Virginia moving on transportation funds
Regarding the Oct. 1 editorial “Virginia’s transportation bottleneck”:
The Post attacked everyone in Virginia politics regarding transportation funding, except the one person most responsible for the lack of progress: Tim Kaine.
Whatever one thinks of the various proposals over the years, since 1986 only one compromise has survived the General Assembly: H.B. 3202 in 2007. It would have both provided more funding for transportation statewide and — more important — freed Northern Virginia and the Hampton Roads area to substantially increase their own transportation funding.
But that wasn’t to then-Gov. Kaine’s liking. Why? Because he wanted elected officials to be “protected” or “insulated” from accountability for their decisions to raise taxes. To accomplish that terribly un-American goal of taxation without representation, Mr. Kaine used his authority as governor to amend the bill to allow unelected regional authorities to raise taxes.
I was in the Virginia Senate in 2007, and I voted for H.B. 3202 before Mr. Kaine amended it. His amendment was blatantly unconstitutional, as the Virginia Supreme Court unanimously ruled in 2008.
Mr. Kaine ruined our best chance since 1986 to dramatically improve transportation funding in Virginia. I wonder why The Post didn’t mention that in the editorial.
Ken Cuccinelli, Richmond
The writer is attorney general of Virginia and a Republican candidate for governor.
The editorial on Virginia’s transportation problems took me back to a 2009 debate between gubernatorial candidates Robert F. McDonnell (R) and R. Creigh Deeds (D) that was sponsored by the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce. Copies of Mr. McDonnell’s transportation plan were available outside the debate as he explained how privatizing state-owned liquor stores would be the key to raising funds for Virginia’s roads.
As the editorial pointed out, the problems with Virginia’s transportation infrastructure are enormous, and they have worsened since 2009. Most Virginians knew that the possible revenue from privatizing the liquor stores would be insignificant, but Mr. McDonnell was allowed to coast with his glib plan, while Mr. Deeds was cornered by reporters seeking to elicit the word “taxes” from him.
So Virginians, because of their diehard refusal to consider raising taxes, even on gasoline, continue to crawl in stop-and-go traffic in a transportation system sputtering on life support, while Gov. McDonnell and the Republican-controlled legislature fail to propose a genuine transportation plan.
Maggie Rheinstein, McLean
In their Sept. 30 Local Opinions commentary, “Where’s the plan for Virginia’s roads?,” Virginia elected officials Sharon Bulova (D), Corey Stewart (R) and Scott York (R) were right — to a point: The General Assembly needs to provide more funding for transportation. I will introduce legislation to do just that in the 2013 session.
But that’s only half the issue. Transportation money must be spent wisely on projects that actually reduce congestion and are synchronized with development and zoning decisions. Local governments in Northern Virginia can do better in this respect.
For example, localities in Northern Virginia support using transportation funds for the Columbia Pike trolley, bike paths and sidewalks. Such projects do nearly nothing to improve regional mobility. Loudoun County’s Board of Supervisors is divided over whether to study another Potomac River crossing. And Arlington’s board always seems ready to throw legal obstacles in the way of widening Interstate 66 inside the Beltway.
Northern Virginia’s governments need to formulate a regional strategy that identifies the most important congestion-reduction projects, as determined by objective analysis. Knowing that tax dollars would be spent effectively would make it easier for state legislators to come up with the money.
Jim LeMunyon, Fairfax
The writer, a Republican, represents Fairfax and Loudoun counties in the Virginia House of Delegates.