House and Senate Democrats Oppose McDonnell’s Plan to Use General Fund for Transportation
Richmond, VA – Democratic members of the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates today announced their opposition to Governor Bob McDonnell’s plan to take .25 percent of the sales tax collected in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads away from general fund priorities like education and public safety and use it to pay for transportation projects in those two regions.
“We can argue about a lot of the ways to fund critical needs like transportation, but taking money out of classrooms and other services funded by the General Fund should be off the table,” said Senate Democratic Caucus Chairwoman Mary Margaret Whipple. “This proposal not only pits regions of this Commonwealth against each other by taking money away from some and sending it to others, it also adds to the substantial deficit in funding for education and other core services that we should be working to reverse.”
“We are at a crossroads in this state in making a very major policy shift in taking general funding money away from education to pay for transportation,” said House Democratic Leader Ward Armstrong in a statement on the floor of the House of Delegates today. “Are roads important? Of course they are! But we shouldn’t be robbing school kids to pay for pavement.
“I also want to point out an idea that came from the other side of this chamber, from Delegates Rust, Albo and May [HB1604], to raise revenue for transportation without raising taxes on Virginians. That is the kind of idea we should be exploring instead of taking money out of classrooms to pay for roads in other parts of the state.”
Senator Donald McEachin said: “The General Fund pays for core services of government such as education, public safety and mental health. We have underfunded those services for years and the Governor is proposing to take even more money out of classrooms statewide to pay for transportation projects in just two regions of the state. We need a statewide solution to fix our transportation crisis, but we cannot and must not fund it on the backs of our children and people who rely on other core services funded by the General Fund.”
“I am further distressed that the transportation funding proposed by the Governor provides so very little for the Richmond metro area. I simply cannot sanction not only taking needed General Funds from Richmonders, but then providing so very little in return.”
“We’re piling on. When you add this proposal to other actions we’ve taken to reduce state aid to localities, you end up in a situation where our localities will be hamstrung to pay for priorities like K-12 education,” said Delegate Jennifer McClellan on the floor of the House of Delegates today. “In doing so we will end up leaving some localities behind at a time when they are struggling to provide the services like education, public safety and mental health on which millions of Virginians depend.”