BREAKING: Virginia House Passes Transportation Compromise, 60-40

BREAKING: Virginia House Passes Transportation Compromise, 60-40

77
42
SHARE

(NOTE TO SENATE DEMOCRATS: Before you guys leave town, you need to make 100% sure that you get Bob McDonnell’s agreement, in WRITING (and also publicly), to expand Medicaid. End of story. – promoted by lowkell)

Just a few minutes ago, the Virginia House of Delegates passed, by a 60-40 vote margin, the transportation compromise reached earlier this week (and that we’ve discussed intensively here at Blue Virginia). Personally, I would have voted against this bill unless two parts were fixed and/or strengthened: 1) the $100 fee on hybrid vehicles is utterly absurd, totally bass-ackwards as the expression goes; and 2) I would want much stronger assurances that any new transportation revenues would be spent on environmentally friendly, smart growth, sustainable transportation solutions and not on more sprawl-inducing highway boondoggles from hell. In addition, House Democrats needed to use this bill for leverage on Medicaid expansion. I’m disappointed they didn’t do that, really don’t understand why they didn’t play hardball, and am 100% certain Republicans would have done just that if the shoe had been on the other foot. Sigh… {UPDATE: Is a a “deal in the works” on Medicaid after all? Let’s hope!}

Anyway, now on to the State Senate, where I’m hoping (but not holding my breath) that the issues noted above will be addressed.

P.S. It turns out that Republicans could only muster 34 of the 51 votes they needed to pass this bill. In other words, Democrats gave then 25 of their 32 votes to pass this bill, without getting anything in return on Medicaid, the $100 hybrid fee, or whatever. I’m baffled; what am missing here?!?

UPDATE: Here are the “yeas” and “nays”.

Yea: Albo; Hodges; Marshall, D.W.; Scott, J.M.; BaCote; Hope; May; Sherwood; Brink; Iaquinto; McClellan; Sickles; Bulova; Ingram; McQuinn; Spruill; Cosgrove; James; Merricks; Stolle; Cox, M.K.; Jones; Minchew; Torian; Dance; Keam; Morris; Toscano; Dudenhefer; Kilgore; O’Bannon; Tyler; Edmunds; Knight; Orrock; Villanueva; Filler-Corn; Kory; Plum; Ware, O.; Greason; Krupicka; Poindexter; Watson; Head; LeMunyon; Purkey; Watts; Helsel; Lewis; Putney; Yancey; Herring; Lopez; Rust; Yost; Hester; Loupassi; Scott, E.T.; Mr. Speaker

Nay: Anderson; Fariss; Lingamfelter; Ransone; Bell, Richard P.; Farrell; Marshall, R.G.; Robinson; Bell, Robert B.; Garrett; Massie; Rush; Byron; Gilbert; Miller; Surovell; Carr; Habeeb; Morefield; Tata; Cline; Howell, A.T.; Morrissey; Ward; Cole; Hugo; O’Quinn; Ware, R.L.; Comstock; Joannou; Peace; Webert; Cox, J.A.; Johnson; Pogge; Wilt; Crockett-Stark; Landes; Ramadan; Wright

UPDATE 3:12 pm: I’m hearing definitively that a deal on Medicaid expansion most certainly WAS an integral part of why many House Dems voted for the transportation deal. Now, the key is to make sure that deal is locked in, that McDonnell doesn’t renege or backtrack, and that the Senate make that absolutely clear before they agree to vote for this legislation!

  • kindler

    Per Wonkblog, “Study: Gas taxes are six times as effective as stricter fuel-economy standards”:

    What’s the best way to curtail gasoline consumption? Economists tend to agree on the answer here: Higher gas taxes at the pump are more effective than stricter fuel-economy standards for cars and trucks.

    Much more effective, in fact. A new paper from researchers at MIT’s Global Change program finds that higher gas taxes are “at least six to fourteen times” more cost-effective than stricter fuel-economy standards at reducing gasoline consumption.

    Oh, but never mind, this is Virginia, where researchers get prosecuted by the Attorney General for uncovering truths.  And where our legislation has nothing whatsoever to do with reality.

  • kindler

    …more quickly than a melting glacier.  

    Which is why we’ll be seeing a lot more of those.

  • http://www.bluevirginia.us lowkell

  • FreeDem

    House Democrats are giving the Governor a huge win and ensuring that Cuccinelli is well positioned to run an anti-tax/anti-establishment campaign.

    And also showing that environmentalists in Virginia have practically no influence at all in Democratic politics. Entirely worthless.

    This is permanently undermining Virginia’s transportation system, and for what? The promise of a Medicaid expansion that will always be a political football.

  • http://www.bluevirginia.us lowkell

    I mean, this guy’s running as a far-right-wing, anti-government, anti-tax ideologue. So should his statement (see below) blasting the House passage of a transportation package be a reason for normal, sane people to love it? I’m only partly kidding. LOL

    I’m very disappointed that politicians in Richmond, including many Republicans, have chosen to raise taxes on Virginia families and job creators rather than getting their spending priorities in line. The issue at stake here isn’t that Virginians pay too little in taxes, it’s that their government in Richmond takes and spends too much of their money, and fails to budget itself the same way responsible families and businesses in the Commonwealth do every day. I commend our Pete ’13 campaign co-chairman Delegate Israel O’Quinn for his opposition to this bill. It’s clear that we need more fresh, principled, conservative leadership in Richmond to deliver real reform, and that’s why I’m running for Lt. Governor.

  • http://www.bluevirginia.us lowkell

    The House has just passed the Transportation package by a vote of 60 to 40. While this is not a perfect legislative package – it does represent the first significant/comprehensive investment in Virginia’s transportation infrastructure since 1986 – the Baliles Administration.

    This is a compromise that has its detractors on both the right and the left. That being said – if we did not act within a short period of time Virginia would not have even been able to provide Federal matching funds – let alone tackle necessary construction projects that are a part of the Six Year Plan.

    This package addresses each of the six issue areas that my colleagues and I were concerned about early on…

    1) It raises over $1 billion in annual revenue. Although I would have rather not touched the gas tax, the bill actually raises (with the regional packages) approximately $1.4 billion annually.

    2) It provides a defined revenue stream going forward.

    3) It limits cuts to the General Fund – that pays for education and public safety (among other things). The Governor was originally asking for significantly more than the $200 million we are at now.

    4) It makes significant investments in TRANSIT (a critical issue for the residents of the 49th District), rail (including $300 million for the Silver Line), and construction – and it addresses the maintenance shortfall.

    5) The money becomes available right away.

    6) There is a regional component for the areas of greatest need in the Commonwealth – Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. Also – the money raised in Northern Virginia (approximately $350 million annually) will stay in Northern Virginia.

    This legislative package is also considerably better than the one originally given to us by Governor McDonnell.

    A few other issues:

    1) As the owner of two hybrid cars and as a resident of a community with countless hybrid vehicles, I joined my colleagues in asking that the definition of alternative fuel cars be changed so that hybrids are not subject to a special tax. We are hearing that this issue may be fixed before the veto session.

    2) The mythical $252 million for the package from the Congressional Internet Sales Tax plan that has yet to pass – and is unlikely to do so – has been addressed. If it is not passed by January 1st, 2015, a separate State-based increase will fill the gap.

    3) I would have much rather had some internal environmental/smart growth controls put in place with this language. Rest assured – that I will be working with the Southern Environmental Law Center to tackle these issues over the coming years.

    This is not an issue that we can wait on… transportation and transit infrastructure improvements are necessary so that Northern Virginia can address our severe traffic/congestion issues and remain an economic engine for the Commonwealth.

    This bill is not a solution – but it is an important step forward for Virginia. I remain committed to improving the overall package this year and over the years to come.

  • http://www.bluevirginia.us lowkell

    This is not a perfect bill by any measure, but it will have a significant impact on NoVA traffic and transit. And the fact that NoVa gets to control its own destiny with its own funds (w/o VDOT control) is crucial.

    NoVA, as the number one place for traffic in the country, needed a plan that gave it control of its own resources. This does that. It has many flaws and it does not solve every issue. But for those of us who live with congestion, crowded buses, inadequate metro service, this is an important step forward.

    The transp bill that just passed in the House still needs work. As a hybrid driver I and many others have asked that the definition of alternative fuel cars be changed in the bill so that hybrids are not subject to a special tax. I am cautiously optimistic we can fix that as I have received positive feedback from a number of sources about doing that. If we can’t, it will be the first bill I and many others file.

  • http://www.bluevirginia.us lowkell

    “Transportation bill passes. A true compromise – something for everyone to dislike – but it has significant resources for rail and transit, that will preserving the Cville train. I supported it.”

  • kindler

    So the role of Democrats is to pass Republicans’ lousy ideas which aren’t quite lousy enough to get enough right wingers to support them.  

    And I don’t buy the fig leaf that hybrids are going to be excluded from the bill.  How could they make the $ add up if they created such a big loophole?  What would be left to tax?

  • kindler

    …who gets a cut every time a Democrat uses the term “not perfect” to describe the bill?  A phrase this frequently and consistently repeated must have been poll-tested…

  • http://www.bluevirginia.us lowkell

    Yesterday, the House passed the Transportation package by a vote of 60 to 40. I voted yes. While I will be sending out a more detailed explanation of what is in this bill over the next few days, let me just share with you a few important features. This bill raises over $1.4 billion in annual revenue, which includes a regional package for Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads ($350 million per year generated in Northern Virginia will stay in Northern Virginia). It provides us with a dedicated transportation revenue stream going forward. It limits prior proposed cuts to education and public safety and makes significant investments in transit including $300 million for Dulles Rail. It does not eliminate revenue from fuel purchases as previously proposed (the gas tax is shifted to a tax on gas at the wholesale level) and out of staters will still have to pay their fair share. The package also addresses the maintenance shortfall we will soon face. While this is not a perfect legislative package, it represents the first significant investment in Virginia’s transportation infrastructure since 1986.