Not everybody is on board: Cuccinelli critical of transportation funding compromise
Remember the kum-ba-yah of political leaders on both sides of the aisle from yesterday on the transportation funding compromise forged by a General Assembly conference committee? Yeah. Ken Cuccinelli isn’t on board.
“The bill that has reportedly come out of conference is vastly different than the proposals made by Gov. McDonnell earlier this session and appears to have a very different fiscal impact on the general fund and Virginia taxpayers. If reports are correct, this new bill contemplates a massive tax increase. In these tough economic times, I do not believe Virginia’s middle class families can afford massive tax increases, and I cannot support legislation that would ask the taxpayers to shoulder an even heavier burden than they are already carrying, especially when the government proposes to do so little belt tightening in other areas of the budget,” Cuccinelli said in a statement Thursday.
The plan adopted by the conference committee that will come up for a vote in the House of Delegates and State Senate would add roughly $880 million a year to the state roads budget. The legislation includes a sharp cut in the state gas tax and an increase in the state sales tax among the key revenue provisions.
The compromise was met with support from McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and presumptive Democratic Party gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe. Cuccinelli is the presumptive Republican Party gubernatorial nominee, and Bolling said last month that he is “50-50″ on the possibility of running for governor as an independent.
Cuccinelli, the sitting Virginia attorney general and a former member of the State Senate, is the most prominent voice in Virginia politics raising issue with the new transportation package forged this week.
“Addressing the transportation needs of Virginia is a very complex matter and there are no easy solutions. I applaud the governor and the General Assembly for working to address the critical issue, but we must make sure that the final legislation meets our core obligations, addresses our transportation problems, and does not harm our economy,” Cuccinelli said. “With Virginia families and business facing rising gas prices, increased regulatory burdens and taxes from the federal government, and the fiscal impact of the federal health care law dramatically rising as we approach the 2014 implementation, we cannot ask them to fund another enormous tax increase.”
McAuliffe campaign spokesman Josh Schwerin issued a statement critical of Cuccinelli on Thursday, characterizing Cuccinelli’s words as an “attempt to derail a bipartisan mainstream compromise” that “threatens real progress on transportation and would guarantee political and literal gridlock for the foreseeable future.”
“Cuccinelli’s work to undermine this mainstream proposal reflects his unique unwillingness to compromise under any circumstances. Once again, Ken Cuccinelli has demonstrated that his ideological agenda is outside even the Republican mainstream,” Schwerin said.