Republicans like to pretend that state transportation funding, last meaningfully increased a little more than halfway through the Reagan administration, can be addressed by diverting existing general fund money to build and maintain highways, bridges, tunnels and rails. They like to pretend that those funds are not needed for public schools, the salaries of sheriff's deputies, the operation of prisons, or payments to Medicaid providers. The bills they offered this week on transportation -- proposing to divert future tax revenue from Dulles International and Reagan National airports, for instance -- were therefore fraudulent; if push came to shove, those bills would have been undone by Republicans themselves.Rather than meet their legislative responsibility to do the hard work of the peoples business, the Republican caucus has made high theater of rummaging through the sofa cushions down in Richmond to fund transportation. Anyone with a lick of understanding knows that transportation projects take steady and predictable revenue sources to span the multi-year course of design and construction. Yet the Republican majority would have you believe that we can scrape it up from this and that and it will add up to a solution - Gilmore Economics?
In fact, the GOP bills were not really intended to ease traffic at all; rather, they were meant mainly to fool Virginia voters into thinking that the Republicans want to solve problems. They don't. When the only serious transportation measure on offer came to the floor of the House on Wednesday -- it was a Senate proposal to provide hundreds of millions of dollars annually in new statewide and regional revenue while also lowering taxes on food and prescription drugs -- it was backed by most Democrats but received precisely one vote from aRepublican: Del. Thomas Davis Rust of Fairfax.So the special session, convened to find sustainable transportation funding ended with ...nothing. Chap puts a real fine point on it:
And then -- cynically, comically -- it was the Republicans who rushed out statements faulting Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) for convening a special session of the legislature without first achieving a consensus plan. Never mind that the Republicans themselves, so many of whom have either signed pledges to oppose new taxes or fear primary challengers who have, make any reasonable consensus impossible.So what is the plan Senator Hanger? How about you Matt Lohr - do you still think we should pay for our own roads? Delegate Cline, and Landes - where are you boys anyway?
You Shenandoah Valley Caucus Republicans better watch out - if gridlocked voters in NoVa and Hampton Roads decide to put this regional taxing thing into action, they may decide to tell our underfunded rural counties to pay for our own schools, sheriffs, rescue and firefighters. It's one Commonwealth boys...lead, follow, or get back on the porch.