Chap Petersen on Virginia’s Debt, Budget, Economy, Transportation Funding

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    Sen. Chap Petersen spoke at yesterday’s Business Leaders Breakfast in Tysons Corner about Virginia’s debt, budget, economy, and transportation funding. Among other things, Chap said: 1) debt over 5% of general funds has been a rule of thumb, but that Sen. Saslaw will likely put in a constitutional amendment to put this standard in the Virginia constitution; 2) Virginia doesn’t have a monetary policy, despite “one delegate who shall remain nameless” apparently wanting one; 3) on transportation funding, the trust fund has declined in real dollars, most revenues we do collect just pays interest on bonds we’ve already taken out plus maintenance, so there’s almost no money left for new construction; 4) if it weren’t for the federal government, there would be almost no new transportation funding in Virginia, and we can’t count on that continuing; 5) taking on more debt we can’t finance is not a good idea; 6) we can refinance and consolidate state debts, but we have to make sure our transportation projects are self-sufficient (e.g., not through the general fund or via gimmicks; 7) Bob McDonnell’s ABC proposal is not a serious idea; 8) offshore oil drilling revenues also not a serious or sustainable idea; 9) we need to pay down the VRS loan before we talk about “surpluses” or “new spending”; 10) creating jobs should be the #1 priority in Richmond through ideas like a revolving fund for small business; 11) Virginia should do more to attract next-generation industries like biotech and nanotechnology; and 12) the key to job growth is human capital – educated, talented, hard-working people.