The Chamber of Commerce and big business recently wrote an Op-Ed calling for another tax increase on citizens who are already carrying a heavy tax burden. [Free Lance-Star October 14, 2017 “Regional Transportation Authority Needed…] They call it a Regional Transportation Authority. That sounds much better than calling it what it really is: a new tax increase designed just for Fredericksburg Region residents.
It reminds me of the old nursery rhyme “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.” All the goats wanted to do was cross over the bridge to get food but the troll underneath the bridge wouldn’t let them pass.
All we want to do is drive to our jobs, be home in time to take the kids to soccer and eat dinner with our families.
This problem has been building for decades. We keep electing politicians who tell us they’re going to fix traffic. They continually raise our taxes without fixing our roads. The Free Lance-Star recently reported that the I-95 stretch from DC to Fredericksburg is the worst traffic hotspot in the United States.
Remember the Republican’s historic Transportation Tax Increase in 2013? We were promised that this tax increase would finally fix our roads. Not only did they raise our taxes but we now pay tolls on roads we used to own. Legislators gave away our roads to a foreign owned company based out of Australia. Transurban now owns them for the next 99 years and the taxpayers do not get one dime of the toll revenue. By the way, Transurban also makes massive contributions to both political parties.
While Fredericksburg is wilting under bumper to bumper congestion, other areas in the state are getting their roads fixed. Stafford County is the 6th highest median income in the nation. Our income tax dollars go to Richmond and don’t come back to our region. Virginia Beach now has 9 mega traffic projects totaling billions of dollars. Fredericksburg has zero mega projects. The tax authority Virginia Beach has implemented is nowhere near the amount of money they get from the state budget.
In 2013, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce named Virginia’s Speaker of the House “Legislator of the Year.” This in spite of the fact that the Fredericksburg Region actually lost millions of dollars of revenue because of House Bill 2, which changed how we fund roads.
Do you really think the traffic problem is somehow separate from our legislators? If they aren’t responsible for this mess then who is?
Besides the obvious of electing new leaders who are dedicated to actually digging into the budget and using our resources wisely, what’s the answer?
- Enact a binding amendment to Virginia’s Constitution to protect transportation funding from being diverted to grow government and fund pet projects. In 2015, Virginia’s “Road to Nowhere” in Suffolk cost the taxpayers over $1 billion without one piece of dirt being turned over.
- Dedicate surplus money to transportation. Over the past decade Virginia has had billions of dollars in surplus money. Hardly any of it has gone to transportation. In June of 2017, Governor McAuliffe announced record revenues – $2.2 billion. Taxpayers are paying but roads aren’t getting fixed. We do not have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.
- Prioritize projects on a statewide basis by basing funds on the number of vehicles traveling roads rather than the number of miles of a road.
The solution is actually quite simple. We just need to elect people who will implement one of the basic roles of government: roads and infrastructure.
(Also published in The Free Lance Star.)