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xcurmudgeon

Transportation

McDonnell Lied on Transportation

by: Elaine in Roanoke

Sat Jan 16, 2010 at 10:13:15 AM EST

My, my, my. Does anyone remember how Bob McDonnell was going to put his full efforts into implementing his "transportation plan"? Do you remember that when a radio interviewer called him on the impossibility of his "plan" working, McDonnell slipped up and used the F-bomb as an adjective describing the twelve "revenue ideas" he had?

Remember those commercials that ridiculed Creigh Deeds because he didn't have a specific "transportation plan", a "plan" that would immediately attack the mess that is transportation in the Commonwealth? Guess what? Bob McDonnell had his fingers crossed behind his back when it comes to transportation. He lied.

The Washington Post is reporting that McDonnell "will not propose a [transportation] fix during this year's legislative session."

"There are only so many things the General Assembly and I can do well in a short period of time," McDonnell said in an interview. "I don't think that there are enough hours in the day for the General Assembly to evaluate that plan and for me to build the consensus to get it passed."

What a change in tune! As the Post notes, McDonnell is now doing an about-face from several months ago when he said, "We've been talking about it now for a long time. It's time to stop talking and start building."

State Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) immediately called McDonnell on breaking his promise to the voters.  

There's More... :: (8 Comments, 795 words in story)

McDonnell's Transportation Maze

by: Elaine in Roanoke

Tue Jan 05, 2010 at 12:10:10 PM EST

OK, now we know that Bob McDonnell's "transportation plan" has lost two of its bogus "sources of revenue." There is no room for the state to issue bonded indebtedness for the next two years, according to the Debt Capacity Advisory Committee.

There also is no way that the state can generate any extra income from possible off-shore drilling any time soon. For one thing, energy companies right now are focusing on the natural gas from shale that is being developed in Pennsylvania, never mind the fact that any revenue from drilling wouldn't materialize for 5-10 years.

How about those many millions McDonnell promised to get by cutting "fat and waste" in the Department of Transportation? Well, Virginia's outgoing Transportation Secretary Pierce Homer has said the latest round of budget cuts is even eating into road maintenance, never mind construction, and staff has already been cut and offices closed.

Road repaving, the main expenditure for maintenance. has been drastically cut in the last budget fix. "Our top priority is maintenance," Homer said, "and we're taking $45 million out of the paving budget simply to balance the books."

There's More... :: (5 Comments, 402 words in story)

The Debt Grinch Stole McDonnell's Rose-colored Glasses

by: Elaine in Roanoke

Sun Jan 03, 2010 at 11:18:01 AM EST

The time when Bob McDonnell can convince Virginians that he can deliver on his promises to fix transportation and the state budget without finding some source of revenue is fast coming to an end.

Right before Christmas, outgoing Gov. Tim Kaine and the General Assembly got really lousy budget news. Virginia, under a self-imposed debt limit meant to retain its triple-A bond rating, cannot afford for the next two years to issue any more bonded debt.

Do you remember that "promise" McDonnell made to jump-start transportation projects with a couple of billion in borrowed money? That won't happen unless McDonnell wants to end an 80-year tradition of Virginia being one of only eight states with the best bond rating possible.

The state's tax-backed debt is $8.9 billion, plus there's an additional $18.4 billion supported by other revenue streams, such as student-housing fees that pay back the bonds that finance dormitory construction. The state credit card is maxed out. There are no spare billions lying around for McDonnell to tap.

The bad news came from a group I had not heard of before. The Commonwealth's debt Grinch is a little-known panel, the Debt Capacity Advisory Committee.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 428 words in story)

Next Governor Faces Economy in Crisis

by: Elaine in Roanoke

Sun Nov 01, 2009 at 10:52:45 AM EST

( - promoted by KathyinBlacksburg)

The Times-Dispatch reporter Jeff Shapiro has written a cogent article today on why the next governor - whoever he may be - will find himself without the state funding for new initiatives, much less the funds needed for carrying on the state services we now have.

Think of what happened to Tim Kaine's dream of pre-K education available for all Virginia's children. This proven way to increase learning and school success, while returning benefits to the state far exceeding the cost of the program, became a victim, first of intransigent Republicans in the House of Delegates, then of the lousy state of the economy.

The first proposal that is going to be dead-on-arrival in Richmond is Republican Bob McDonnell desire to pay for roads, in part, with the taxpayers' credit card by issuing billions in bonds, repaid with interest. The problem with that is the state is already bumping up against its self-imposed ceiling on debt-backed financing: that annual bond costs not exceed 5 percent of revenue.

The obstacle to McDonnell's borrow-and-spend plan is quite simple: As revenues, down another $1.5 billion in the latest state report, continue to fall - and they will - the state will be compelled to have fewer bonds issues, not having the required-by-law cash to underwrite them. That's the reason that proposed bonds for transportation already passed by the General Assembly haven't been issued.

The tripping point to the spend-now-pay-later crowd in the Commonwealth is our intention to preserve Virginia's triple-A credit rating, the highest possible and one shared with only six other states. By the way, this honor was last imperiled by Virginia's last Republican governor,  Jim Gilmore of no-car-tax fame, who blew a billion dollar plus hole in the state budget in order to drive his victory car through it to Richmond.

You'd think that voters in the state would have learned by now that Republicans should not be trusted with other people's money.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 1005 words in story)

Roanoke Times gives Deeds a strong endorsement

by: teacherken

Sun Oct 25, 2009 at 00:11:39 AM EDT

the subtitle to their endorsement reads
The longtime senator is the candidate for governor who is serious about the most pressing issue facing Virginia: transportation.

They begin by calling McDonnell "more articulate and slick" but say if the question is who would better govern, the clear answer is Creigh Deeds.  And, like the Washington Post, they are quite dismissive of Bob's "plan" for transportation:

His plan, as detailed as it may be, is a farce. It is a compendium of rejected ideas, supplemented by revenue from sources unlikely to pan out, topped off with money stolen from an already inadequate general fund.

His plan would not work and would guarantee that Virginia will do nothing to make up for a widening gulf between transportation needs and available resources.

 
There's More... :: (0 Comments, 257 words in story)

Deja Vu: GOP VA-GOV Candidate's Impossible Plan to Widen I-66 Inside the Beltway

by: frankoanderson

Sat Oct 17, 2009 at 19:16:47 PM EDT

In a desperate move to draw votes in Northern Virginia, the McDonnell campaign has latched onto what was a failed plan for the Kilgore campaign four years ago:  widening Route 66 inside the Beltway.  Yesterday, in a radio ad from the US Chamber of Commerce, I heard a grandfatherly voice praising Bob for his plan.

I'm no civil engineering expert, but I can think of a few reasons why this would be impossible or unworkable:

1.  Whose houses in Arlington and Falls Church are you going to tear down in order to build the extra lanes?
2.  How will this help traffic when there is still a bottleneck at the Rosslyn Tunnel?
3.  Adding more lanes will inevitably increase traffic flow, which would turn Constitution Avenue into a parking lot.  

Lastly, it's practically illegal.  According to the Arlington Coalition for Sensible Transportation,

Widening I-66 violates the Coleman Decision and associated agreements between the USDoT, Virginia, and local residents.

The Coleman Decision, rendered by then-USDoT Secretary William Coleman on January 5, 1977, was an historic compromise that allowed I-66 to be created inside the Beltway by "guaranteeing" a four-lane limit. Further breaching this compromise would show nationally that highway agency promises to communities are worthless.

But Bob's campaign is betting on the votes of weary commuters looking for false salvation.  I wonder if there are some Arlingtonians out there who would be willing to speak out against this.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Washington Post: Bob McDonnell's Plans = "Phony-Baloney"

by: Teddy Goodson

Wed Oct 07, 2009 at 17:50:56 PM EDT

An editorial in The Washington Post today, 7 October, described Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell's transportation funding plan as "phony-baloney."  I have thought so myself, but it's a such a pleasure to see this level of frankness in the mass media. What occasioned such an outburst in a staid, carefully even-handed pillar of journalism?  The newspaper was commenting on a published resolution, a plea from the Northern Virginia Transportation Coalition for Virginia to "raise taxes for its badly underfunded and rapidly crumbling transportation system" because if the Commonwealth does not, nothing will be fixed.

The Northern Virginia Transportation Coalition is a group of 17 of what The Post describes as the "biggest business groups in Northern Virginia representing thousands of companies and hundreds of thousands of employees, which "includes almost everybody who is anybody in the richest, most globally engaged part of the state."  These people will have the most to lose if Virginia continues its past "head-in-the-sand" policies of refusing to spend serious money on transportation.  The resolution lays out the facts very clearly: without new revenues (read "taxes") the state's economic engine will die.  "Goodbye jobs and growth." Period.

There's More... :: (8 Comments, 382 words in story)

Washington Post slams McDonnell on his transportation plan

by: teacherken

Sat Sep 26, 2009 at 03:46:19 AM EDT

The editorial is titled Drinking Games, because of McDonnell's proposal to sell Virginia's 334 state-operated liquor stores for what he claims will be a one-time windfall of half a billion dollars.  The editorial's subtitle reads  Robert F. McDonnell's transportation plan rests heavily on privatizing hard-liquor sales in Virginia. Is it sober?.

I was among those arguing that Deeds needed to address honestly how his plan would be paid for.  He did in this op ed on Wednesday, about which I wrote here Tuesday Night.  On Thursday the Post editorially praised the oped.  It now seems evident the paper will strongly support Deeds.

After an intro paragraph that ends with the observation that the plan yields only disappointment, the Post absolutely eviscerates McDonnell and his plan:

There's More... :: (4 Comments, 816 words in story)

McDonnell "Plan" Is "Borrow and Spend," Plus "Smoke And Mirrors"

by: Elaine in Roanoke

Thu Sep 24, 2009 at 09:27:13 AM EDT

(An F'ing good diary! - promoted by kindler)

As has been pointed out here, The Washington Post editorial today praises Sen. Creigh Deeds for being honest with people about the cost of solving Virginia's transportation woes and criticizes Republican Bob McDonnell for his "smoke-and-mirrors, wing-and-a-prayer approach to transportation."

I want to take a close look at what McDonnell has proposed and show that the Post is absolutely correct.

Let's parse that "transportation plan" Bob McDonnell has posted on his website a bit more.  Heading his ideas for funding is borrowing through bond issues...to the tune of $4 billion by the time "the economy recovers." McDonnell's plan for paying back all that money, plus interest?

"Bob McDonnell will find a suitable additional revenue stream to pay debt service if the existing insurance premium taxes are insufficient." What is that "suitable revenue stream"? He doesn't say, but he is sure it won't include any statewide increases in taxes.

While McDonnell is borrowing all that money, he also assures us that "every effort will be made to accelerate the annual issuance of the bonds without jeopardizing our triple A bond rating." Sure. I get it. Using that reasoning, I can tell the credit agencies that determine my personal credit rating that I will find a "new revenue stream" after the economy recovers to maintain my rating, even though I have opened four new credit cards and plan on charging the maximum on each one. They won't change my credit rating, right? After all, I promise to find a new source of income, without knowing where that income will come from.

Hey, this "borrow and spend, smoke and mirrors," that McDonnell advocates is easy. I can throw economic facts out the window and pretend the facts don't exist. So, let's continue looking at Bob's way of avoiding paying for what we need.

There's More... :: (10 Comments, 607 words in story)

On Tranportation, Wash Post Praises Deeds, Bashes McDonnell

by: teacherken

Thu Sep 24, 2009 at 07:08:51 AM EDT

Yesterday Creigh Deeds had an op ed in the Washington Post about which I wrote here the evening before in a diary titled Creigh Deeds steps up in Virginia.   Today the Washington Post uses that as an occasion for a hard-hitting editorial with the title Honesty on Transportation, and the subtitle "Mr. Deeds has leveled with Virginia voters. Will they listen?"

I will very briefly explore the editorial below the fold.  I encourage you to read it, and to pass it on to anyone you know in Virginia, and anyone who might be interested in the outcome of this race.  I will also urge you to contribute to the Deeds campaign, which you can at his website

There's More... :: (5 Comments, 986 words in story)

Creigh Deeds steps it up in Virginia

by: teacherken

Tue Sep 22, 2009 at 22:21:15 PM EDT

( - promoted by KathyinBlacksburg)

In Wednesday's Washington Post, there is an op ed by Virginia Democratic candidate for governor Creigh Deeds on what is the key issue for both Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, transportation.  In offering this op ed, Deeds will, in the eyes of some, be taking a risk, because he forthrightly acknowledges that the only way to address Virginia's transportation crisis (and as a Virginia, trust me, it is a crisis) will be with a dedicated source of funding -  in other words, Deeds is now on record as supporting taxes dedicated to transportation.

You can read the editorial, which has the title My Transportation Plan

Below the fold I will explore it a bit, and offer some analysis.

There's More... :: (10 Comments, 1031 words in story)

Exclusive interview with John Bell - the man who will beat Bob Marshall

by: kindler

Wed Aug 12, 2009 at 21:41:13 PM EDT

Republican Bob Marshall has proven over his 18 year career to be one of the most extreme social conservatives in the House of Delegates.  The good news is that this year he is opposed by a Democratic candidate, John Bell, who exudes reasonableness, common sense and moderation - the polar opposite of what the residents of the 13th district (covering parts of Loudon and Prince William Counties) have come to expect from "Sideshow Bob".  In the following interview, John Bell expounds on his "call to service" and his vision for working to solve the real problems that bedevil his constituents.  (BTW, see other recent interviews with Democrats in key House races -  Greg Werkheiser and Margi Vanderhye.)

Meet John Bell

My call to service began in 1981, when I joined the Air Force right after high school.  I traveled all over the world, I did a couple of tours in the Far East, my last tour was in Germany, and I was a comptroller in the Middle East.  My service was a great time for me - it was a labor of love.  I was really young when I joined, and I learned a lot about life.  On school nights and weekends, I got my bachelor's degree, eventually became a senior non-commissioned officer in the Air Force,.  As an officer, I enjoyed public service, I managed budgets, and I was in charge of solving problems to make our missions work.

I'm married, and my wife Margaret is also retired from the Air Force, where she served for 20 years.  We have five children, and we've had two serve on active duty and one in the International Guard - my daughter's there today in Tennessee.  My son John just returned from his sixth trip to the Middle East, and is now on active duty for the Air Force.  So we have a big military family, it's a big part of what we're about.  My heart goes out to the veterans who are in harm's way today and I don't forget about them either and I do what I can to support them.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 2697 words in story)

McDonnell's ABC Gimmick

by: Paradox13VA

Wed Jul 22, 2009 at 12:32:27 PM EDT

( - promoted by kindler)

Bob McDonnell has found his "No Car Tax" pledge - privatize ABC stores to pay for road improvements.
Robert F. McDonnell, the Republican candidate for governor of Virginia, proposed Tuesday handing over about 330 state-run liquor stores to private operators to pay for road improvements -- a novel way to fund fixes but one that confronts many of the same obstacles that have stalled previous efforts. - The Washington Post
It's a beautiful idea from a framing perspective. It's pro-business and anti-government. It is clearly designed to attract Virginia's business conservatives who are somewhat skeptical of Bob McDonnell as the arch social conservative candidate. It appears to address the key issue in Northern Virginia - roads and traffic. And it forces the Deeds campaign to react, rather than act, on the roads issue in the campaign.
There's More... :: (2 Comments, 392 words in story)

Transportation in a Time of Penury

by: Teddy Goodson

Sun Apr 05, 2009 at 16:29:14 PM EDT

( - promoted by kindler)

UPDATE: for a complete list of bridge and paving restorations, look here: http://www.nvta.org/files/Stim...
Based on Obama's campaign promises of restoring America's crumbling infrastructure, and their subsequent incarnation in the "stimulus bill," one would hope there would be some serious money applied to Northern Virginia's infamous transportation crisis.

On the other hand, in crafting Virginia's budget this year, VDOT (Virginia Department of Transportation) did its part in resolving the budget shortfall by slashing not merely construction projects previously promised, but by even cutting maintenance and repair funds... hope you can live with those car-destroying pot-holes-near-you. Truth is, not even a generous KFC could hope to fill in all our potholes, much less staple together all our crumbling bridges. So, what kind of money will we finally be looking at?  

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 256 words in story)
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