According to the increasingly “moderate”-sounding Bill Bolling (although his record is conservative through and through), we need new revenues for transportation (duh!). How do we get those revenues? According to Bolling, “it seems to me the easiest way to do that is to address the fact that the gas tax hasn’t been increased since 1986…the regional average is about 27 cents a gallon, we’re at about 17 cents a gallon, so we could easily go to 23 or 24 cents a gallon and still be well below the regional average” (also duh!). Seriously, this is the no-brainer of all no brainers: Virginia needs billions of dollars, probably tens of billions of dollars, for transportation, and the only serious way to do that is to raise the gas tax. In addition, it’s a no-brainer for environmental and national security reasons, as we want to be moving away from fossil fuels as rapidly as possible. In fact, if we fully internalized all the pollution, health, national security, and other costs of oil, we’d have gasoline at $10 per gallon or higher, so all this sturm und drang about a few cents is really just silly, as nobody has a serious alternative (and no, raising the sales tax is NOT a serious alternative).
More broadly, Bolling says that all the Republican LG candidates running around saying they oppose any taxes to raise money for transportation are being completely unrealistic. Either that, or they’re just good at political pandering. But the fact is, as Bolling points out, “policy is set in the real world, not in some ideological world,” and “none of those people [the GOP LG candidates] will solve this problem – none of them.” Are you listening, Pete Snyder et al? Key word: “compromise,” which sadly is a curse word to the Teapublican’ts.
On Medicaid expansion, Bolling says he’s come “full circle,” and that the “business case has been made for Medicaid expansion...if we’re able to negotiate the flexibility from the federal government to initiate a number of reforms in the way we operate our Medicaid program to make it more efficient, and more effective, and more affordable.” Again, where are the 2013 Republican candidates on this issue, of paramount importance to hundreds of thousands of Virginians, and to the state as a whole? Nowhere, as far as I can tell.
Finally, with regard to his possible gubernatorial run, Bolling says he’s still 50/50, is convinced he’d be a “credible independent candidate,” and that the main question is whether he can raise enough money to run a winning campaign. Stay tuned for March 14, when Bolling says he’ll announce his decision.
P.S. I’d point out that Virginia’s 17-cents-per-gallon gas tax accounts for only 4% of the price, meaning the remaining 96% goes to the oil companies, the refiners, the gas stations, the federal government, OPEC, etc. In contrast, in most other advanced, industrialized Western nations, taxes make up 70%, 80% of the price. Why is our energy policy so different in the US than in the rest of the developed world? Basically, because oil interests have us by the balls. We need to not-so-gently remove their hands from our cojones, ASAP.