Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cuccinelli: Transportation is an excuse to reach into your wallet

Democrat Tax Hike

The Senate Democrats have spent the three days of the special session killing every non-tax-hike transportation proposal that we’ve brought them. So far, three of those alternatives have been mine.

Of course, today they passed Majority Leader Dick Saslaw’s tax hike legislation on a party-line vote, 21-16 (three of our folks were missing). No Republicans voted for the bill.

Saslaw’s bill raises your gas tax 6 cents per gallon statewide. He also has regional components. Amazingly, the centerpiece of the NoVa regional component is a ½ cent sales tax hike – the exact item the voters rejected by referendum in 2002 by a strong 55-45 margin; and the centerpiece of the Hampton Roads regional component is a 1 cent sales tax hike – the exact item the voters rejected by referendum in 2002 by the whopping margin of 62-38.

All of the Hampton Roads Democrats and NoVa Democrats voted for this monstrosity – amazing. Um, democracy anyone?

I pointed out that every family and business in Virginia has had to trim every other part of their budget to move money over to transportation (because of higher gas prices), and it’s about time that our own government should do the same thing.

I proposed a bill (I understand that Delegates Cole and Gear had similar bills on the House side) that would have taken ½ cent of the existing sales tax and moved it over to transportation, starting with the next budget. That would be worth $600 million for transportation in the first year of implementation and no programs would need to be cut because the growth in the general fund (where sales taxes go) will be more than $600 million in the next budget, thus, my proposal would only result in smaller rates of growth in other programs funded out of the general fund. This is what I mean when I say that the state government should trim the other parts of its own budget to fund transportation.

You can guess how my bill was received in the Finance Committee! They killed it.

It makes one wonder, is transportation a priority or isn’t it? The Dems’ answer is clearly ‘no,’ instead, it’s an excuse to reach farther into your wallet.

Yoo Hoo! Governor Kaine?

Gov. Kaine appeared for a joint session on Monday and gave a 30 minute speech to the members of the House and Senate on transportation (before jetting back out to campaign for Obama…?). He was warmly received by the Assembly, but I don’t think he got a single round of applause (even from Democrats) for a single substantive thing he said during the entire speech.

Someone pointed this out to me after the fact, as it had not occurred to me at the time, and I have never, ever, seen anything like that. Kaine and the Democrats are so off-kilter that the Governor couldn’t even get a Democrat in the Senate to introduce his own bill! Amazing. For the record, Saslaw’s bill looks nothing like the Governor’s proposal(s). Furthermore, we haven’t heard a peep out of the Guv since he gave his speech.

I have been through a number of special sessions, and others who have been through many more agree, we have never seen a Governor call a special session with virtually no consensus (nor anything approaching a consensus) about how to proceed. This Governor can’t even get his own fellow Dems to support his proposal!

This is obviously the stuff that Vice-Presidential leadership is made of…

Senator Ken Cuccinelli

Virginia 37th District