March 03, 2008 8:59 AM
by Jessica Sabbath
Legislators and Gov. Timothy M. Kaine will try to craft a new transportation funding plan this week.
Lawmakers were sent scrambling to create a solution after the Virginia Supreme Court ruled on Friday that taxing powers of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority were unconstitutional. This year’s session is scheduled to wrap up at the end of this week.
The Associated Press reported that Kaine met with lawmakers this weekend, and they agreed to try to fix the plan this week.
Regional authorities in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads were major components of a transportation package passed last year by the General Assembly. Regional taxes would have raised an estimated $300 million and $200 million, respectively.
The transportation compromise took years to create. It would have raised about $1 billion a year for transportation projects around the state. The court’s decision would wipe out at least half of that.
Some lawmakers are certain they can develop an alternative plan this week, while others are convinced it will take a special session later this year to come up with a new plan.
I hope our elected leaders will keep the Constitution and the fundamental principals of American Democracy in mind as they search for solutions to our transportation infrastructure issues.
While I am proud to have been able to stand up for our rights, and the rights of all those in Virginia, I find it shameful that private citizens, such as myself and my wife, had to step up to the plate and litigate to preserve the fundamental principal of No Taxation without Representation. We deserve better from our elected officials.
The ends do not justify the means. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.
Bud Miller of Alexandria, VA
Mar. 3, 2008 at 11:13 AM
Kaine is by far the worst Governor in Virginia history. Rushing illegal taxes is more important than getting it right and fair. Still has not learned his lesson.
Tim of Virginia
Mar. 3, 2008 at 04:15 PM
Local and County Public Officials who yielded to political pressure from Members of the Virginia General Assembly and Virginia Executive Branch, and newly-elected Officials, should vote to withdraw as members of HRTA, effective immediately, in response to the wishes of many of their Constituents and the 29 February 2008 Decision of the Virginia State Supreme Court.
Members of the VGA and VEB were elected by their respective Voters to look after their best interests, affirming that our Government remains a Government of the people, by the people, and for the people, and not to satisfy the palate and influence of unwarranted political and special interests at the State Level.
The VGA and VEB should provide a Comprehensive State-wide Multimodal Transportation Program with fair and equitable funding programs, appropriate priorities, and phased-in implementation to accommodate the needs of those individuals who live, work and travel within Virginia.
The HB3202 legislative package and related provisions is an affront to the intelligence, integrity, and honesty of Residents, Voters, and Taxpayers who were never given a detailed explanation of its many legislative provisions; adequate public hearings and forums; public referendum: and Citizen input for any and all action related to imposition of any and all taxes, fees, tolls, and other charges therein.
For example, (Pages 5-10) The Budget Bill; (Pages 11-16) Article 9-Impact Fees; (Pages 17-28) Chapter 42, Joint Commission on Transportation Accountability; (Pages 29-46) Hampton Roads Transportation Authority; (Pages 47-55) Article 4.1-Motor Vehicle Fuel Sales Tax in Certain Localities: and (Pages 56-60) Commonwealth Transportation Capital Projects Bond Act of 2007 have never been fully explained to Constituents.
Each of these sections contains costly statutory provisions that will impose an unfair financial burden on Constituents in our area who would have to provide their hard-earned Taxpayer Dollars to pay for its implementation.
The Media should consider initiating an objective, detailed investigative report on each of these sections to educate Constituents.
I doubt seriously that any Member of our VGA and VEB and other Officials, could stand before Constituents and explain (without written statement) these provisions and the adverse impact they could have on Constituents.
Such provisions were never written for the “average citizen” who can never compete with the awesome financial and other Taxpayer-Paid resources of our Local, County, State, and Federal Governments, individually and collectively.
The VGA and VEB “dumped” this legislative package on Local and County Officials, infringing on their duties and responsibilities to Local and County Constituents.
Local and County Officials become the “legislative patsies” for State Officials who failed in their duties and responsibilities to their Constituents to do that for which they were elected to do by “passing the buck” to Local and County Officials. Now they seek political expedient solutions to make up for lost time over a period of approximately 20 years.
Local and County Officials would be the “enforcers and tax/fee/toll Collectors” for the Commonwealth of Virginia. This is not what they were elected to do.
A detailed public statement of accountability should be provided via an understandable narrative and detailed accounting of income collected and expenses disbursed so everyone will know the status and disposition of such financial information and related commitments.
This includes a detailed disclosure statement from any and all Members and other individuals associated with the HRTA to resolve any and all potential applicability for Conflict of Interest.
I pray that Officials will heed the voices of Constituents and act in their best interests, rather than yield to any continued State “arm-twisting”, promises, knee-jerk action for solutions, and other political shenanigans bordering on outright political extortion.
Best wishes and thank you.
FRANK GUS TSUTRAS, James City County, VA.
One of 18 Original Plaintiffs who, on or about 7 August 2007, filed a Complaint (Case # 07-3853-1) in the Circuit Court for the City of Richmond, versus the Commonwealth of Virginia Governor, Attorney General, Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, Commonwealth Transportation Board, NVTA, and HRTA Challenging the Constitutionality of recently enacted legislation, Acts of the Assembly, Chapter 896, (Chapter 896). The Complaint was prepared and actually filed by the distinguished Attorney Patrick McSweeney from Richmond, VA.
Frank G Tsutras of James City County, VA
Mar. 4, 2008 at 01:35 AM
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