By Delegate Todd Gilbert & Delegate Dave LaRock
The Virginia House of Delegates voted this week on a transportation measure that has attracted some attention. This blog published a lengthy, and unfortunately for the blog’s good reputation, mostly inaccurate criticism of the bill. The author says it contains tax increases and creates new tolls.
We want to set the record straight. We both opposed the 2013 transportation plan but supported House Bill 1887 which passed the House 96-2 this week.
We joined conservatives like Rob Bell, Ben Cline, Mark Cole, Brenda Pogge, David Ramadan and Kathy Byron in supporting this good, conservative reform bill because it reforms how Virginia spends transportation money, increases transparency and gives localities more control of funding for local projects.
What HB 1887 does
Currently, there are ten separate funding streams for transportation spending, resulting in a convoluted and opaque process that kept money from being efficiently devoted to improving transportation and left the public in the dark.
This legislation simplifies the old, complicated funding formula into three simple funding streams dedicated to transportation.
Under this bill, 40% of funding will be spent to fix bridges and pavements, 30% will be sent to local districts for local projects, and 30% will be spent on key statewide needs. Last year, House Republicans helped pass legislation requiring transportation funding to be prioritized to where it could make the most difference. House Bill 1887 will keep that accountability in place.
This is a good bill that makes it easier to get transportation money more efficiently to the places it can make the most difference.
Why it matters
Under this bill, more money will be sent to localities to be spent on construction projects. The bill gives localities significantly more say in what projects will make the most difference in their communities.
Every local district will receive more funding for local projects. The Fredericksburg district, for example, will receive $40.4 million in local funding for transportation projects while it was previously receiving $18.6 million.
This is a significant step forward in how we allocate our transportation dollars. More money being controlled and spent at the local level is a good thing. It means fewer decisions made by Richmond bureaucrats.
What HB 1887 doesn’t do
Lies have a funny way of spreading faster than the truth, but we should be clear about what HB 1887 doesn’t do.
There is nothing in this bill, or any other bill that’s made its way through the House this year, that raises taxes.
There is nothing in this bill that creates new toll roads or converts existing highways and interstates into toll roads.
There is nothing in this bill that creates a slush fund for the governor. The bill actually increases the independence of transportation decisions from the governor and makes transportation spending more transparent.
In conclusion, we would encourage you to read the bill and see for yourself [http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?ses=151&typ=bil&val=hb1887].