Local Commentary

Delegate Scott’s Richmond Report

Transportation funding depends on 7 Northern Virginians

Last week members of the General Assembly “money” committees met in Richmond to hear Governor Kaine and his Administration brief us on his proposed amendment to the biennial budget.

Once again he asked the Assembly to support measures supporting substantial continuous regional and state-wide transportation funding. In the House, the Finance and Appropriations Committees constitute the two key bodies. The Finance Committee is responsible for providing the revenues, and the Appropriations Committee appropriates them to agencies and organizations.

The House Finance Committee is composed of 22 members—14 Republicans and eight Democrats. The House Appropriations Committee has 25 members with nine Democrats. Therefore 47% of the House membership serves on these two committees.

 Northern Virginians constitute seven members of the Finance Committee and 4 members of the House Appropriations Committee. Without approval of the House Finance committee, new revenues for transportation are extremely unlikely.

Several transportation funding bills passed by the Senate were killed in the House Finance Committee a few short weeks ago. All three Northern Virginia Republicans voted against the Senate-passed transportation bills in the House. Democrats were split, but provided the only votes for the major initiatives that would have provided $400 million for Northern Virginia and approximately $1 billion for the whole state.

This year’s bill sponsors have said they will try again. For reference, the Northern Virginia delegates on the Finance Committee are Tim Hugo (R), Bob Hull (D) and Vivian Watts (D), Steve Shannon (D) and Chuck Caputo (D) of Fairfax County, and Jeff Frederick (R) and Scott Lingamfelter (R) of Prince William.

In the Senate, the 15-member Finance Committee is the only “money”

committee. Three members of the Senate Finance Committee –Senators Charles Colgan (Prince William) and Dick Saslaw and Janet Howell (Fairfax County)—are from Northern Virginia.

Through the internet and mail, you can reach Northern Virginia members of the Finance Committees during the legislative session that begins on Jan, 10.

If all Northern Virginia members vote for the transportation bills in House Finance, they will have an excellent chance of becoming law. Without them all, transportation funding to address Northern Virginia’s $16 billion shortfall is likely to die again this year.

The session is schedule to last only 45 days. An extension of the session again this year appears unlikely because it is an election year. Therefore, anyone wishing to have an impact on transportation funding should be in touch with the seven Northern Virginians on the House Finance Committee. You can find contact information for them all through Google.com.