Cline critical of governor on transportation

Item by Chris Graham
freepress2@ntelos.net

Rockbridge Republican Del. Ben Cline is “disappointed but not surprised” that Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine has proposed a series of small tax and fee increases to provide funding for transportation maintenance and funding.

“As a member of the House Finance Committee, I have listened to Gov. Kaine ask time and time again for us to raise taxes on Virginia families. But when our economy is slowing and rising food and fuel costs are forcing families to tighten their belts, it is the wrong time to ask working Virginians to hand over even more of their hard-earned dollars to the government,” Cline said.

Kaine proposed raising a billion dollars annually for transportation maintenance and improvements with an increase the existing motor-vehicle sales tax from 3 percent to 4 percent and an increase the statewide vehicle-registration fee by $10 annually. The plan also includes a 1 percent increase in local sales taxes in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads and a 25-cent increase in the statewide grantor’s tax.

The money, estimated to total a billion dollars annually by 2012, would replace revenues lost in last year’s Republican-sponsored transportation compromise that included regional transportation authorities that were later shot down by the Virginia Supreme Court and abusive-driver fees that were taken to the woodshed by residents and finally by state legislators earlier this year.

“We do have significant transportation needs in the Commonwealth,” Cline said. “But before we ask the taxpayers for one more cent in additional taxes, we should be prepared to tell them that we have spent every penny of existing transportation revenues as efficiently as possible, something we cannot say today. Therefore, we must first continue our efforts to reform our transportation system before resorting to higher taxes. We must also learn to say no to unfettered suburban sprawl and encourage more responsible land-use planning by local governments. Only then will Virginia begin to get a handle on meeting our long-term transportation needs.”

Efforts have been ongoing dating back to the Mark Warner gubernatorial administration to reform the Virginia Department of Transportation that have led to administrative efficiencies in several key areas.