Monday, March 10, 2008

Lieutenant Governor Bolling Asks for Your Input on Transportation Issues

Transportation Funding Likely To Be Subject Of Special Session In April

excerpt from The Bolling Report

March 9, 2008

"One final issue also remains unresolved in Richmond – funding for Virginia’s beleaguered transportation system.

During the 2007 legislative session, the General Assembly passed a statewide and regional transportation plan that was estimated to raise $1.2B annually for transportation in Virginia.

On the statewide level, $600M in additional funding came from the implementation of abusive driver fees (which have now been repealed), a $10 increase in annual vehicle registration fees, and increases in registration fees, fines and penalties for heavy trucks.

On the regional level, an additional $600M in funding ($400M in Northern Virginia and $200M in Hampton Roads) came from a series of tax and fee increases that were to be enacted at the discretion of the Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads transportation authorities.

However, last week the regional components of this plan were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Virginia. The Supreme Court ruled that the General Assembly could not delegate its taxing authority to an unelected body.

It appears likely that Governor Kaine will call the General Assembly into a Special Session in April to decide how to replace the $600M in transportation funding that has been lost in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads by this ruling.

Already, various parties in Richmond are taking sides on how this issue should be resolved.

Governor Kaine and General Assembly Democrats have called for a “statewide solution.” In fact, Senate Democrats have already proposed increasing the state gas tax by 5 cents per gallon and increasing the motor vehicles sales tax (titling tax) from 3% to 3½%.

In addition, Senate Democrats want the General Assembly to propose a series of tax increases in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, including increases in the regional sales tax, grantors tax, transient occupancy tax (NVA), and gas tax (Hampton Roads).

However, Republicans have argued that the focus needs to be on replacing the revenue that has been lost as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision on the regional components of the 2007 transportation plan.

However, Republicans are divided on the approach that should be taken.

Some Republicans propose having the regional tax increases struck down by the Supreme Court implemented by direct action of the General Assembly.

Some Republicans propose giving local governing bodies in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads the ability to enact these tax increases at their discretion.

Some Republicans object to imposing any tax increases whatsoever, arguing that additional dollars should be provided to transportation from existing revenue sources once the economy begins to grow again.

I would like to hear from you on this issue. How do you think we should approach the future of transportation funding in Virginia? If you would like to share your thoughts with me, you can contact me at "

Lieutenant Governor William T. "Bill" Bolling