Local Commentary

Delegate Scott’s Richmond Report

Transportation Sham

It was bad enough that the Republican leadership gave House and Senate members less than an hour to read the 105-page transportation bill. Unless virtually re-written by the Governor, it will require local governments to raise fees and taxes by almost $400 million in Northern Virginia with no help from the state. And it will “devolve” transportation to counties—require to them to take over construction of planning and construction of roads.

Loudoun and Prince William Cos. Boards of Supervisors, dominated by Republicans, have said “No way, General Assembly, transportation is your job, not ours.”

In Richmond, the Republican leadership refuses to raise new revenues to pay for $2.5 billion in bonds. They want to divert funds now dedicated to public schools, higher education, public safety, the environment and health care for the poor (Virginia’s Medicaid funding is one of the most miserly in the country) to pay off bonds for 20 years.

Jeff Schapiro, columnist of the conservative Richmond Times Dispatch:

“There’s a perverse logic here that recalls Ronald Reagan. He thundered about fiscal discipline but countenanced record deficits to underwrite programs congressional pals needed to get re-elected.”


 The Dillon Rule in reverse

For decades local governments have decried the Virginia Constitution’s limitation on home rule called the “Dillon Rule” that prevents localities from doing anything unless the Commonwealth specifically allows it. HB 3202 tells localities they must reverse 75 years of the Commonwealth’s transportation bargain with them—and PAY FOR IT THEMSELVES!

Since the 1932 Byrd Act, the state has recognized that transportation was a state responsibility. Not until 2000 were all counties given the authority to pass bond referenda to finance transportation improvements.

Even though Fairfax County, for example, now spends $80-100 million per year on transportation, the Republican leadership is telling Tidewater and Northern Virginia to raise $600+ million in taxes to relieve the state of its obligation. What a deal!


Majority Leader to Rural Virginia: Stick it to Northern Virginia before it is too late.

As reported in the Martinsville Bulletin, Delegate Morgan Griffith of Salem warned rural Virginia to support the bill before Northern Virginia and Tidewater have enough legislators—after the 2011 re-districting—to get what they want.

Remember when Northern Virginia Republicans were telling us they would change all those formulas that hurt Northern Virginia as soon as they took power? Ten years—and no formula changes—later, their leader tells them that this transportation bill may be the last time his friends can stick it to Northern Virginia.


If that is not bad enough…

Jeff Schapiro of the Times Dispatch again:

“Local elected officials, not legislators, would raise taxes for regional projects, then take the heat for it. But they couldn’t spend a dime without an OK from the Assembly…the same crowd too chicken to make tough decisions.”

No wonder the Falls Church City Council has asked the Governor to veto this bad bill and tell the Assembly to do its job.