Transportation is critical to the economy and to our overall quality of life in communities across Virginia. Unfortunately, many of our state legislators, including Speaker Bill Howell, have engaged in a shell game for years, using transportation to justify raising our taxes, only to squander our money as soon as we turn our backs.
Now it gets worse. After wasting money that should have funded transportation following their massive 2013 tax hike, their new plan will double tax us by potentially turning our interstates and highways into toll roads.They always need more money despite having doubled Virginia’s budget in the last decade.
Speaker Howell and his chief lieutenant, Appropriations Chairman Chris Jones, are well on their way to fundamentally changing transportation policy in Virginia by rushing more legislation through Virginia’s House of Delegates for another giant cash grab through House Bill 1887 – Chief Patron Delegate S. Chris Jones.
You can do something about this but you must act today!
HB 1887 will be voted on today, and if it becomes law, it will allow transformation of many of Virginia’s highways and interstates into privately managed toll roads—taxing you to access the roads.
Three highly respected Northern Virginia Republican Delegates – Hugo, LeMunyon and LaRock – have already voted no to this bill out of committee.
Like the tolled lanes that just opened on I-95 in Northern Virginia, all the risk will be upon Virginians—meaning if the tolls do not reach the agreed upon revenue levels, then taxpayers must kick in money to bail out the private company managing the road. This type of Solyndra-style deal is the last thing we need.
Worse, this bill puts the state’s share of revenue from tolls into a revolving fund, meaning the tolls you pay won’t actually be tied to the maintenance of the road you are using. The money can be spent however politicians in Richmond determine best. And in the meantime, a company located in another country – Transurban – controls our roads that we have already paid for with our hard earned dollars.
To the same end, the legislation creates a slush fund for the Governor to spend without oversight or accountability, fueling pet projects like Speaker Howell’s $1.4 billion road-to-nowhere alternative Route 460 project. $300 million has already been spent without one bit of dirt being turned, and it could cost up to $900 million just to cancel the project. No private company would invest in the project because it clearly was a boondoggle.
Speaker Howell’s 2013 tax hike and this proposal to transform Virginia’s highways are not only bad policy, they are policies that make life tougher on lower and middle income families. Sales tax increases, gas tax increases and tolls all stretch family budgets.
Speaker Howell is doing this piece by piece thinking we are too stupid to figure it out. Yesterday the General Assembly passed House Bill 1784 which lays the groundwork for massive rail projects by emphasizing the General Assembly’s intent to promote rail.
Today’s bill moves our entire transportation policy to toll roads and rail. It takes money from the transportation fund and moves it to a number of sub-funds with no real metrics attached to it, just blanket authorization. Currently, funds can only be obligated for projects for up to 6 years. HB1887 authorizes obligations of funds as far into the future as the Governor or the House Appropriations Chairman deems necessary, tying the hands of future Governors and General Assemblies.
They want to make sure their pet projects are protected without our input.
There’s even more bad news in this bill, as it fundamentally changes policy for local road projects too. HB1887 authorizes the Commonwealth Transportation Board to fund local projects with money from the Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank. Localities will have to apply to the CTB for funds to fix local roads, but in doing so, this bill adds strings: it will require the localities to charge a toll for that road project.
Have you had enough? I am tired of constant assaults on our liberty by our own government. What’s even worse they pass this legislation so quickly the people have no time to truly grasp the consequences of these new tax and toll policies until it’s too late. We have Republican leaders who are abusing their power — like Speaker Bill Howell who is at the helm — ensuring this double taxing legislation passes!
I encourage you to call your Delegate and Senator NOW as soon as possible and tell them to reject this legislation that double taxes us and turns our roads over to private companies while placing all of the financial risk on Virginians. They are voting on it today.
Instead of corrupt tax-hiking deals between big government and big business under the guise of transportation funding, we need sensible transportation reforms that will actually produce results:
- We need to enact an amendment to Virginia’s Constitution to protect transportation funding from being diverted to grow government and fund pet projects.
- We need a true prioritization of projects on a statewide basis, and transportation formulas need to be adjusted to provide funding on the basis of the number of vehicles traveling a road, not the number of miles of roads.
Virginians are overtaxed. More tolls and taxes are bad for Virginia families and bad for our economy. Instead of electing politicians who hike our taxes, it’s time to elect leaders with a vision for Virginia’s future and the determination to get results.