AAA calls on legislators to protect roads trust fund

AAA Mid-Atlantic today called on state lawmakers to pass what it termed a “critical component” of Gov. Bob McDonnell’s $4 billion transportation funding initiative: a constitutional amendment to protect the Transportation Trust Fund.

“Finally getting desperately needed funds for transportation only to have them escape like air from a leaky tire is fruitless,” AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Martha Meade said. “History has shown over and over that transportation funds will be raided for other purposes, thus the question of whether or not the amendment is needed has already been answered.”

Both the Senate and House of Delegates now have measures before them to create a sort of lockbox around the Transportation Trust Fund. House Joint Resolution 511, sponsored by Republican Del. G. Glenn Oder, creates a mechanism that requires that any borrowing from the fund be approved by a two-thirds vote. The loan must then be paid back with interest and within four years time. The Senate’s version, Senate Joint Resolution 363, sponsored by Republican Sen. Thomas K. Norment, seeks the same protections but requires repayment within three years.

The Senate resolution has been amended to be a double lockbox, meaning that the trust fund cannot be raided, nor can it take funds from other sources, a change that is unpopular with the McDonnell administration and less likely to pass in this year’s General Assembly session.

In order for a constitutional amendment to be enacted, “it must be approved by the General Assembly, remain for one intervening election, pass the General Assembly a second time, and lastly be placed on a ballot for a public vote. I think we should let the public decide if they want their funds protected, if they want transportation funds dedicated to only transportation projects,” Oder said. “I believe this is the type of confidence and trust the public wants to have in the use of their tax dollars.”

Edited by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at freepress2@ntelos.net.

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