I just spent an hour reading the 98-page conference committee report on HB 2313, the “transportation plan.”
It’s the very opposite of fair, equitable and uniform.
Instead, it’s a grotesque combination of tax cuts, tax rebates, tax increases, new taxes, old taxes which are phased out (and then reappear elsewhere), regional alliances, regional funds, regional goals, statewide goals, special projects, and exceptions to all the above. All boiled into one report which will be voted on with zero public comment.
Good Lord — was it really that hard to simply raise taxes for transportation? Did you have to rewrite the entire Code book, so you could use the fake “but we’re cutting taxes too!” line on gullible voters?
There are some benefits, such that there is new money dedicated to transportation, which allegedly obtains $800M in new statewide revenue by the out years. Most of this is accomplished by raising the titling tax on vehicles, raising the sales tax to 5.3%, and then “replacing” the retail gas tax with a wholesale gas tax (don’t ask — the rationale is too lame to be worth explaining).
On top of that, regional plans with the sales tax rider and hotel taxes will add significant new regional revenues, up to $350 million in northern Virginia, which will be controlled up here (and not by the CTB). As always, these “regional” taxes are not a good precedent. We are becoming two Virginias — with two different tax rates. Inevitably one half will rely on the other.
There are a lot of items which need to be covered before the report gets a floor vote. Should be an interesting 48 hours!
(Update at 8:50 p.m. Running out the door to have a quick drink at the Jefferson in honor of Chip Woodrum who died this week. Chip was a long-time Delegate from Roanoke and one of the really good ones. I served with him in the House and he was one of the best people I met).