Va. Senate Democrats Have Compromised on Transportation. Now, it's the Republicans' Turn.
Democrats have moved towards the Governor's plan
RICHMOND, VA — After making serious concessions regarding transportation funding, Virginia Senate Democrats urge their Republican colleagues to compromise.
On three key demands -- made by Governor McDonnell, House Republicans, and many Senate Republicans -- Senate Democrats have given ground, showing a willingness to work towards a bipartisan transportation compromise. In his original proposal, Governor McDonnell moved existing general fund money to transportation, diverted future online sales tax revenue to transportation, and increased the sales tax. After stating they would not support a transportation plan that had these components, Senate Democrats unanimously voted for a plan that incorporated these ideas.
The transportation plan that Senate Democrats voted for contains many aspects of Governor McDonnell's and the House Republicans' proposals. The plan includes a redirection of approximately $56 million of existing general fund money, and includes a significant redirection of future online sales tax revenue. The bill also incorporates the Governor's idea of using sales tax revenue by allowing localities to impose a local sales tax to fund transportation projects, despite deep concern among Democrats regarding the uncoupling of road users from road financing.
Senator Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said, "We have moved a long way from our original position and made very significant moves toward the Governor's plan. We've given them general fund money, sales tax money and online tax revenue they say is essential to any bill they can support. Senate Democrats have compromised. Now, it's time for those on the other side of the aisle to come towards us."
Senator Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax) said, "Virginia ranks 38th in public school spending, 35th in higher education spending, and worst of all, 46th in Medicaid spending. Money in Virginia is so tight that every penny is needed just to fund our existing commitments to children, the sick and elderly, and the very poor. If we take even more money out of the general fund to pay for transportation, then our ability to fund public education and take care of our most vulnerable Virginians will suffer even more."