News Release - Hamilton Responds to NVTA Letter Attacking Regional Compromise on Transportation...for more coverage, go on over to Bearing Drift.
Hamilton Responds to NVTA Letter
-- Governor Kaine’s Efforts to Torpedo Regional Compromise Bear Fruit --
NEWPORT NEWS, VA – After reviewing a letter sent yesterday by members of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA), Delegate Phillip Hamilton (R-Newport News), the chief patron of the legislation being attacked in the letter, said, “It appears that Governor Kaine and the Democratic legislative leadership are willing to let the Transportation Special Session end without any serious effort to address the regional portions of HB 3202 that were declared unconstitutional by the Virginia Supreme Court.”
According to Hamilton, the Northern Virginia portion of HB 6055 was drafted in accordance with the efforts of Delegate David Albo and other Northern Virginia Republicans who have worked tirelessly on trying to provide additional transportation funding for this highly congested region of Virginia.
Hamilton indicated that because of the seriousness of transportation congestion in Northern Virginia, an Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute has been drafted to amend the bill to require the state imposition of taxes and fees for the NVTA to address one of the concerns listed in the letter.
Concerning the use of future state tax revenue from economic growth at the public and private ports in Hampton Roads for improvements to the transportation network in Hampton Roads, Hamilton said it is much like designating a portion of a state sales tax increase in 1986 to the Transportation Trust Fund.
Prior to 1986, no sales tax revenues were used for transportation. Then, the Democratically-controlled General Assembly raised the sales tax and dedicated the ½ cent increase to transportation. Today, this tax revenue which could pay for schools, health care, public safety and other core service functions of state government is dedicated to fund another important core service function of state government – transportation.
Instead of bipartisan cooperation, it has only been Republican legislators who have offered legislation limited to the regional transportation needs of Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads without a statewide increase in taxes and fees in an effort to address the concerns raised by the Virginia Supreme Court.
“It appears that the Democratic leadership is more interested in holding Northern Virginia’s and Hampton Roads’ transportation needs hostage for higher statewide taxes during the current economic downturn and when Virginia families are already suffering,” Hamilton said. “It is almost as if these Democratic leaders are more interested in petty, partisan politics than trying to improve the quality of life in two regions that provide the majority of the economic revenue for the Commonwealth.”
Hamilton indicated that HB 6055 offers an opportunity for the Governor and the General Assembly to work together to address the unique regional transportation needs of Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.
“If the desire is to legitimately address the regional issues brought about by the Supreme Court’s decision, Republicans and Democrats should offer ideas to fashion a compromise for the transportation needs of these two regions,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton added, “To date, Republican legislators have risen to the occasion and offered reasonable and responsible ideas for discussion on addressing the regional transportation needs of Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. If Democratic leaders refuse to offer regional solutions, it will be obvious that this special session was never about transportation solutions any way.”