As the day wears on, more taxpayer and conservative groups are voicing their opposition to the transportation compromise bill.
Coming, as they do, from national groups, the effect on state legislators is likely muted. One that some worthies are likely to take notice of, however, comes from the Family Foundation:
This plan is not just a tax increase, but new across the board spending. Make no mistake, if you live in the urban crescent or plan to or need to purchase a new or used car in the future, you are going to pay higher taxes. The idea that our gas prices are going down as a result of replacing the antiquated gas tax with a wholesale gas tax are, honestly, foolish. The plan calls for the elimination of the gas tax (17.5 cents per gallon) with a wholesale gas tax increase, which proponents of the plan indicate will be the equivalent of a 10 cent per gallon tax. The consensus, however, is that the “savings” will not be passed on to the consumer, so we will continue to pay higher prices at the pump.
But I’ll save the most scathing dissent for last, and it comes from the keyboard of my old friend, Jim Bacon:
Governor Bob McDonnell may be a Republican, and he may deem himself a conservative, but he has single-handedly accomplished what two previous Democratic governors never did, and that is expand the scope of government in a way never before contemplated in Virginia. His contribution to the philosophical pollution of governance is the conceit that (a) transportation is a core function of government, and that, therefore, (b) Virginia is justified in paying for transportation out of General Fund revenues, not on an episodic, raiding-the-till basis as in the past, but as an enduring principle.
Whether any of these brickbats stops the bill before Saturday’s scheduled adjournment is an open question. I still wager a Pfennig it (barely and reluctantly) passes.
And for those who want to go into the weeds, this report from the Reason Foundation contends that roads and bridges aren’t crumbling to dust, atoms or quarks. And Virginia’s roads? According to Reason’s measure:
Virginia improved on all seven key measures of highway performance between 1989 and 2008, and was one of only 11 states to experience such sweeping improvements. The state significantly reduced its proportion of urban interstate, rural interstate and rural arterial roads in poor condition. In addition, it vastly reduced urban interstate congestion, reduced its proportion of deficient bridges, lowered its highway fatality rate, and slightly reduced its proportion of narrow lanes on rural primary roads.
Virginia was one of the most successful states in the country in terms of its highway infrastructure. The state lowered its proportion of roads in poor condition to near-zero levels across the board. Its improvement in urban interstate congestion was also considerable, with 64.8% of its urban interstates congested in 1989 compared to just 37.9% in 2008, a drop of 26.9 percentage points. This was the second highest improvement in the country in urban congestion.
Americans for Prosperity has also come out against the transportation bill, and from and there are dark clouds from inside the House of Delegates as well:
…Republicans objected to anything that would force consumers and motorists to dig deeper into their pockets, especially now that the state is running surpluses.
“We all want a comprehensive solution to address our transportation needs, but in an attempt to cobble together enough new tax revenue to satisfy the demands of Senate Democrats, this has become a Frankenstein’s monster for Virginia taxpayers,” said Del. Ben L. Cline (R-Rockbridge), co-chairman of the Conservative Caucus.