Todd Allen Wilson
12:56 PM PST, February 14, 2013
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling sent a letter Thursday to the members of the House of Delegates and Senate conference committee tasked with working out a deal on a transportation funding package, in which he asks for both sides to make major concessions.
"Now is the time for compromise and consensus building," Bolling wrote."It is not the time to draw lines in the sand or take positions from which one cannot retreat. If all parties involved in these negotiations keep an open mind and express willingness to compromise, I am confident that an acceptable transportation agreement can be reached this year."
Bolling can not break a tie on the transportation bill in his role as President of the Senate.
He warns the conferees that two requirements must be met in order for the plan to get the necessary 51 votes in the House and 21 votes in the Senate to send a plan to Gov. Bob McDonnell.
First, Bolling said, the plan must include a hefty chunk of new revenue.
"For example, through a modest increase in the gas tax as proposed by the Senate and an increase in vehicle registration fees as proposed by the governor, significant new revenue could be generated for transportation," he wrote. "This will require willingness on the part of many Republicans to compromise on the issue of higher taxes and fees, and I encourage them to do so."
Second, Bolling warns that Democrats must give on dedication more general fund revenue to transportation.
"While the legislation approved by the Senate includes a modest general fund transfer, I believe a more significant transfer will be required to enable us to reach agreement," he wrote. "For example, the Governor’s proposal to increase the amount of the existing state sales tax that is dedicated to transportation from .50% to .75% would generate $280 million per year in additional funding for the Transportation Trust Fund. This is a more realistic approach that will require willingness on the part of the Senate to compromise."
He also encouraged the conferees to keep a regional component in their plan, such as the Senate proposal to allow Hampton Roads, Northern Virginia and Central Virginia to impose a regional 1 percent sales tax increase dedicated to local transportation projects.
Here is Bollings full letter:
February 14, 2013
The Honorable Frank Wagner The Honorable Thomas Norment
The Honorable John Watkins The Honorable Janet Howell
The Honorable Walter Stosch The Honorable Chris Jones
The Honorable David Albo The Honorable Beverly Sherwood
The Honorable John O’Bannon The Honorable Onzlee Ware
Dear Senators and Delegates:
I want to applaud the Senate and House of Delegates for each passing meaningful legislation to address Virginia’s long term transportation needs. While there are substantive differences in the plans approved in the Senate and House of Delegates, I believe that these competing plans provide a solid framework for further negotiations that could enable us to resolve Virginia’s long term transportation needs this year. Now is the time for compromise and consensus building. It is not the time to draw lines in the sand or take positions from which one cannot retreat. If all parties involved in these negotiations keep an open mind and express willingness to compromise, I am confident that an acceptable transportation agreement can be reached this year.
Based on the plans adopted by the Senate and the House of Delegates, it is obvious that any final transportation agreement must include two critical elements in order to obtain 21 votes in the Senate and 51 votes in the House of Delegates. These include:
Finally, I applaud the Senate for including a meaningful regional component in their transportation plan that would enable localities in Northern Virginia, Richmond and Hampton Roads to generate significant additional revenue for regional transportation priorities. In order to generate the amount of money we will need to adequately address our transportation challenges I hope that a substantive regional component will be part of a final transportation agreement, and I encourage the parties to continue working to find a way to make this possible.
Once again, I want to congratulate both houses of the General Assembly for their willingness to work with us in trying to find a long term transportation solution for Virginia. A solution to this important issue has eluded us for far too long. We have a historic opportunity to solve this problem this year and I am confident that we can do so if we continue to work together and are willing to compromise. The people of Virginia are counting on us to get something done. Let’s not let them down.
Very Truly Yours,
WILLIAM T. BOLLING
Commonwealth of Virginia
Copyright © 2014, Newport News, Va., Daily Press