Monday, January 23, 2006

The Bolling Report

TRANSPORTATION TAKES CENTER STAGE As I mentioned in last week’s edition of The Bolling Report, one of the major issues facing the General Assembly this year is building a transportation system for the 21st century. In fact, I believe this is the most important issue facing the General Assembly this year. Almost every part of Virginia is facing serious transportation challenges. While this is particularly true in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, it is also true in other parts of Virginia. Building a transportation system for the 21st century is not only a quality of life issue, it is rapidly becoming a question of economic viability. In order to build a transportation system for the 21st century we must dedicate significant additional revenues to highway construction and we must pass a Constitutional Amendment to prevent money in the Transportation Trust Fund from being diverted to other government programs. We must also continue to look for ways to enhance efficiency and effectiveness within the Department of Transportation, expand the use of public/private and state/local transportation partnerships, and work with our federal partners to increase federal funding for transportation in Virginia. This week transportation took center stage at the State Capitol. On Friday, Governor Tim Kaine and leaders in the Senate of Virginia announced competing $3.7B transportation plans. (Click here for a copy of the Governor's plan.) Each of these plans have many commendable proposals that should receive bi-partisan support, such as: * Improving accountability within the Department of Transportation * Linking land use planning with transportation through a voluntary transfer of development rights program * Requiring traffic impact studies for every rezoning request, and * Making certain that transportation dollars are not diverted to other government programs. Unfortunately, both plans rely on significant tax increases. For example, Governor Kaine’s plan would: * Generate $1.66B by increasing motor vehicle sales and use taxes from 3% to 5%. * Generate $463M by increasing automobile insurance premium taxes by 2.25%. * Generate $296M by increasing motor vehicle registration and titling fees for the “heaviest passenger vehicles that cause the most wear and tear on the roads.” However, these increased fees would not apply to tractor-trailer trucks. The Senate plan would also increase motor vehicle sales and use taxes, but the Senate plan would phase this tax increase in over a period four years. This would generate a total of $1.16B. Likewise, the Senate plan would increase motor vehicle registration and titling fees, but the increase would apply to all vehicles. The Senate plan would generate $346M by increasing all such fees by $10. SUVs would pay an additional $10. In addition, the Senate plan would: * Generate $1.26B by making gasoline purchases subject to the 5% state sales tax. This tax increase would be applied to the wholesale price of gasoline, not the retail price. * Generate $117M by removing the current sales tax exemption on automobile repairs. * Generate $72M by applying the same tax rate for diesel fuel as for gasoline. While I agree that we need to dedicate significant additional revenues to transportation on an ongoing basis, I do not support any proposal to increase taxes. I do not believe that these tax increases are necessary. Given the current economic growth that is taking place in Virginia, I remain convinced that we have an historic opportunity to increase transportation funding without raising taxes. By taking advantage of this economic growth and moving existing revenue sources to the Transportation Trust Fund, I believe that we can increase transportation spending and adequately fund the other core responsibilities of state government. Fortunately, there is still an opportunity to do this. A number of proposals have been introduced in the General Assembly that would transfer a number of existing revenue sources, such insurance premium taxes, recordation fees, corporate income taxes, and a number of other possible revenue sources to transportation. There are also other appropriate ways to generate additional revenue for transportation. For example, I have no objection to an expanded use of tolls, congestion pricing and HOT lanes to help pay for high priority projects; and proposals to increase fines and penalties for abusive drivers also deserve serious consideration. In addition, I do not believe that these tax increases are appropriate. In particular, I have grave concerns about the proposals to increase motor vehicle sales taxes and make gasoline purchases subject to the 5% state sales tax. These proposals would increase the cost of buying an automobile for every Virginian, make it more difficult for many Virginians to obtain new and used car loans, and have an adverse impact on the automotive industry; and they would increase the price of gasoline at a time when gas prices are already too high. As I have said many times, tax increases should be the last choice, not the first choice, and they certainly should not be the only choice we are willing to consider. If there is a better way to fund government programs, and I believe there is, that is the way that should be chosen. Needless to say, this issue will receive considerable debate in the weeks to come. Regardless of how you feel about this issue, now is the time to let the Governor and the members of the General Assembly know whether or not you support higher transportation taxes. To reach Governor Kaine's office, click here. (http://www.governor.virginia.gov/Contact.cfm) To contact your legislator, click here. (http://legis.state.va.us/cit_guide/cit_partic/contacting_my.html) I would also be interested in hearing your views on this issue. You can contact my office by clicking here. (http://www.ltgov.virginia.gov/contactUs.cfm) On Monday of this week I will announce my Legislative Agenda for 2006. I will discuss my Legislative Agenda in the next edition of The Bolling Report. If I can be of service to you in the meantime, please let me know. -- Bill Bolling

9 Comments:

At 1/24/2006 04:49:00 AM, Anonymous NOVA Scout said...

So that's the Bolling Report. I'd be interested to know what the Bolling Plan is. At least now he acknowledges that there is a Transportation issue. During the campaign (primary) he said it was an illusion created to support tax increases. If this guy really has a sustainable way to deal meaningfully with these issues without tax increases, he'll get whatever the Virginia equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize is. Unfortunately, he stared saying that at a time when I don't think it was possible to know whether it was accurate or not and I caught a whiff of political expediency. But, giving him the benefit of the doubt, he shouldn't keep us waiting. It would be cruel trick to have the GA tearing itself inside out over various plans to finance transport improvements if Bolling sits back and hides the one way to do this with no new taxes.`

 
At 1/24/2006 08:28:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading this sent a chill down my spine because it reminds me of the same thing Jim Gilmore said in 1999-2000 to justify spending one-timers surpluses for multi-year programs. IThe good times will continue forever ...

 
At 1/24/2006 08:55:00 AM, Blogger nova_middle_man said...

I understand his no new taxes stance but he needs specifics like what funds are going to be used specifically (ie dollar amounts) and what is going to happen to the programs that the funds were originally earmarked for.

I fully support looking at the entire budget and eliminating wasteful or unnecessary projects and putting that money towards other priorities like transportation or giving it back to the people.

 
At 1/24/2006 09:15:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why didn't Bolling do any of this in his ten years in the Senate?

 
At 1/24/2006 09:26:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is classic Bill Bolling. "The way to solve this problem is by recognizing that I am a true conservative."

 
At 1/24/2006 10:02:00 AM, Blogger James Young said...

Be sure you don't lay off, nova scout, and various anons. He's just one of the two senior elected Republicans in state office.

Chairman Sean in 2009!

 
At 1/24/2006 10:52:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ditto.

Connaughton in 2009.

 
At 1/24/2006 03:09:00 PM, Blogger James Young said...

In case the irony was missed on you, Anon 10:52, that was sarcasm.

 
At 1/24/2006 08:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with James Young.

Sean for Governor in 2009!

 

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