Do or die for transportation?
By the time you read this, Virginia’s 2008 Special Session may have ended. If so, you can skip the next couple of paragraphs.
The good news is that House Democrats and Senate Democrats hammered out a compromise that will allow transportation funding to advance-if the Republican majority in the House will allow it to advance. It may allow a funding measure to reach the Governor’s desk if a at least 15 House Republicans vote for it,
The Democrats measure would eliminate the gas tax increase from the Senate bill. Without the revenue from the gas tax the bill would involve state enacted regional plans for Northern Virginia and Tidewater. The Northern Virginia funding package would yield approximately $351 million in FY 2112, rising to $376 million in 2014. In addition, it would remove the tax on food from the sales tax dedicated to transportation in 1986, saving every Virginia family approximately at least $100 annually.
In addition, the new proposal would dedicate an additional $400 in FY2112 for statewide maintenance funding, rising to $515 million in FY14. Without this funding, all construction funds would be reduced because maintenance requirements are taken off the top.
If the measure is passed, it will go to the Governor, who can propose amendments to increase any of the funding. If the Senate rejects the measure, it will go to conference committee for compromise discussions.
If those discussions are not fruitful, the bill dies. If conference committees agree, the measure will then go to the Governor for amendments-and then back to the House and Senate for approval.
If one of these alternative scenarios produces a bill, several important hurdles will be overcome, including the critical funding statewide maintenance shortfalls. If not, the transportation funding discussion will resume in 2009. With so many Republicans signing the pledge not to raise taxes of any kind, the final resolution may not come until after the 2009 elections for Governor and the House of Delegates.