BREAKING: Speaker Howell Says He Definitely has 51 Votes in House for Transportation Deal

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    I’ve been listening live to the John Fredericks Show (note: see John Fredericks’ view of the transportation deal here – in short, he strongly supports it), where Virginia House Speaker Bill Howell (R) just stated unequivocally that he has 51 votes in the 100-seat House for the transportation deal announced yesterday. Howell further stated that he’s more than willing to defend himself against right-wing attacks on the deal, which raises taxes significantly, because Richmond is not Washington, DC; here in Virginia, we compromise to get things done according to Howell. Speaking of the right wing, on the John Fredericks Show a few miniutes ago, Howell slammed GOP LG candidate Pete Snyder’s proposal to slash Virginia government spending across the board in order to pay for transportation as “draconian,” “naive,” and “unrealistic.” Finally, Howell noted that Sen. Janet Howell (D), who he emphasized is a liberal, is on board with the transportation compromise, clearly implying passage by the State Senate. Stay tuned for more, but it looks increasingly like this thing’s a done deal.

    P.S. I’m starting to think that this transportation deal, despite its MANY flaws, might be worth it just to see the Republican Party tell the teahadists (e.g., Grover Norquist, Pete Snyder) to go f*** themselves. LOL

    UPDATE 8:42 am: Sen. Ralph Northam says “we’re in good shape” on the transportation plan, “we’ve hit crunch time in Virginia,” “for the economy of Virginia…both sides of the aisle have come together for this…it’s a package that will move Virginia forward…I’m real excited about it…supportive of this package.” Northam says he’s “a little bit disappointed” in the $100 fee on hybrid vehicles, but understands the argument on the other side. Hmmmm. On the regional aspects of the bill, Northam says the “reality” is that Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads need the extra revenue, “projects that need to be done,” this is a “step in the right direction.” Northam says there are some in the Democratic caucus who have concerns, but he believes there will be “bipartisan support” in the Senate for this bill.

    Whoa, on the John Fredericks Show, they just called Aneesh Chopra a “far left-wing candidate.” Seriously?!? Wow. Hahahaha, Sen. Northam just (jokingly?) said he’d be happy to pick up John Fredericks and drive him to the polls to vote in the Democratic Primary on June 11. Having interviewed both Chopra and Northam, also having looked at their records, I’m not seeing any serious policy or ideological differences between them, let alone that one’s the “moderate” candidate and the other’s “far left.” Either I’m totally missing something here (doubtful in this case), or the John Fredericks folks are messing with us, or something else is going on here…

    UPDATE 10:54 am: I’m hearing that Howell might not really have those 51 votes, that he could just be b.s.’ing and/or trying to reduce Democrats’ leverage vis-a-vis Medicaid expansion. Personally, my advice to House Dems is simple – for once you actually may have some leverage, as Howell wants and needs votes from your caucus. Use that leverage to push for Medicaid expansion, and don’t take no for an answer!

    UPDATE 11:01 am: Greater Greater Washington weighs in and is not happy with this plan. Also, see Del. Surovell’s analysis of the plan.

    • Pain

      They are charging hybrid owners $100 a year because hybrid owners don’t pay enough in gas tax, but then they are eliminating the gas tax?

    • Elaine in Roanoke

      Gee, what will they do about the possibility of electric cars? Make those people pay a portion of their electric bills to the state?

      The fairest way to pay for roads, at least by Virginia citizens, would be to devise a system whereby those people who drive the most pay the highest fee for registering a vehicle. Easy to do, since we have annual inspection of cars and trucks. Putting the mileage into a computer record would be a piece of cake. There also is the advantage of making mass transit more attractive to people.

    • FreeDem

      It will be interesting to see if Chopra comes out against this. It would be a clear and visible split between Chopra and Northam, and for me all the reason I’d need to vote for Chopra.

    • http://www.bluevirginia.us lowkell

      …including around 38 minutes in, where Fredericks says he can cast Aneesh Chopra as “a far left-wing candidate.” Huh?!? Where did THAT come from?!? Bizarre.

    • demomatic

      Looks like the GOP finally figured out how to pass transportation-

      Tax Democrats who have hybrid cars.

      Tax Democrats that live in NoVA or Hampton Roads, making them pay more for roads that everyone else in Virginia gets for free.

      Tax poor people who don’t have cars to pay for transportation (sales tax increase).

      Bonus: Bob McD gets to say he eliminated the gas tax when he’s running for President. He’ll be able to claim it was a bipartisan deal because at least one Democrat in each chamber will vote for it. He’ll never mention that he imposed the gas tax at the wholesale level.

      Great job passing transportation!