Meet the New Plan …

It’s Saturday night in the Petersen household.  My wife Sharon is watching
our daughter Eva perform in the “The King and I” at Fairfax High School.  I’m in
the basement supervising my two younger kids, Mary Walton and Thomas.  Fresh
wood is on the fire, and “Mulan” is playing on the video. 

While the kids are watching the movie, I’m scoping out the new Republican
transportation plan. Basically, I see two plans within one:
Statewide:  The Republicans generate new cash based on(1) transfers from
the State General Fund, (2) various fee increases, and (3) a lot of borrowing. 
Nothing new here — pretty much the same plan that Tim Hugo was pushing last
year.  The funniest part is the “dedication of 50% of the surplus” as a
“recurring new revenue.”  Umm, what if there is no surplus?  This is the exact
same logic which made the 2000 Transportation Act such a sham. 
Regional:  More interesting.  The Repubs permit counties and cities to
raise taxes only on commercial properties for road needs (editor’s note:  I
don’t think that is legal under our State Constitution).  There is an underlying
fairness here as commercial properties have been under-assessed for the last few
years due to methodlogical issues.  So points for originality.  The real problem
is getting every NoVA jurisdiction to participate — what if some refuse?   The
remainder of the plan is more fees on little people and an increase in the
recordation tax for deeds.  So, if you want to refinance, you better do it now. 
The bottom line is that the Republican leadership have kicked off the
discussion.  Democrats should respond constructively.  It has been my opinion
that uniform taxes based on fuel consumption are the ”fair” way to fund these
improvements.  Selective tax and fee increases are marginal in their impact, and
promises of “future revenue” are likely to be repealed by a later Assembly. 
But I’m only one guy in Fairfax.  Let’s see what the others say …


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