First, on a personal note, thanks to all of you that have written, stopped by our home, sent cards/gifts/flowers, and had us in your thoughts during our inaugural days as parents. The blessing of a beautiful baby girl have only been enhanced by the kindness of so many of you. Both Amy and Gracie are doing great, and I’ve become an expert at getting the diaper off and changed before the next event (because you know it’s coming). :-)
Second, I wanted to give you a quick report on the recent transportation session held in Richmond. From the news media, you are likely aware that once again, the House and Senate could not agree on either a method for funding transportation, nor an approach to addressing transportation in general.
The Senate’s position was to largely maintain the status quo while pumping more money into transportation under the existing failed formulas with a multi-billion dollar tax hike on northern Virginia families to pay for roads in other parts of the state that don’t need them. In the House, we strongly believe that we’ve got to end our current 1930’s Byrd/Depression-era approach and enter the 21st Century with our roads, rail, transit, and land management. Time after time, be it here in Virginia or in other places around the nation and world, we’ve seen that solely pumping more money into transportation without other reforms only compounds the problem, and often makes it much worse. We can’t keep doing things the way we’ve always done them – the current system is broken – and a comprehensive approach is the only way we’ll make real progress.
We need to target any new transportation dollars to the areas that need them the most; we’ve got to do more to get development under control while better coordinating transportation with any new growth; and reform the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) into an agency that measures it’s success by how much congestion it reduces, or eliminates, not necessarily on how many projects it builds (if the projects don’t reduce/eliminate congestion, then what good do they do?).
This comprehensive approach is precisely the direction that the House’s transportation package promoted. We passed our substantial package of legislation and sent it over to the Senate. They responded by refusing to take up just about any of it, then adjourning and going home with two days still remaining in the transportation special session. I suppose they left town because, with our package disposed of, there was nothing left to discuss – the Senate didn’t send over any transportation package for us to consider during this special session, nor did the Governor.
Specifically on transportation funding, the House’s package included $2.4 billion, without raising taxes. Yet, no matter how much money is available, no matter how big a surplus, and no matter if Virginia government is flush with cash, a majority in the Senate will not put an extra penny towards transportation unless we raise taxes to do it. I think that’s unfortunate and irresponsible – especially when it’s your money (not their’s) and you want it spent on transportation.
Notwithstanding, surplus dollars or no surplus dollars, we need to make transportation a priority in the budget, and at the rate the budget is growing (Virginia requires a balanced budget, so budget growth is directly attributable to revenue growth), if we would resist the urge to grow other areas of state spending by 24-28% per year (like we did this year), and instead by a very healthy 8-12% (still multiples over the rate of inflation plus growth), we would have billions available to dedicate to transportation – about $8 billion in the last budget had we done this.
Aside from spending your money better, on your priorities, my focus also remains on reigning in out-of-control growth and development by better coordinating land-use decisions with transportation planning. We saw some good progress on this earlier in the year, and I look forward to continuing to work on a bi-partisan basis with the Governor and anyone else interested in moving the ball forward on this integral piece in addressing our transportation challenges.
The land-use legislation I introduced during this special session was, as other legislators described it, “out-of-the-box.” New ideas are key, and I plan to reintroduce these bills and do all I can do to alleviate our traffic in both the short-term and in the years ahead.
Lastly, I wanted to remind you again about our annual Crab Feast a week from Saturday. It’s a great event that you’re sure to enjoy. If you can make it, it’d be great to see you. Info on the event is below.
Please Join Us for the
Friends of Jeff Frederick
Saturday, October 21st, 2006
Belmont Bay Marina Pavilion
Making Her First Public Appearance:
and other Special Guests
Robert Hartwell & his yacht the R&R
Crab, shrimp, and all the fixins’ by Tim’s Rivershore
Music, food, and family fun where the Potomac and Occoquan Rivers meet
RSVP by October 20th to Mike Hardy
703-490-8405 or firstname.lastname@example.org or online at
Gold Crab – $2,500 (10 tickets)
Silver Crab – $1000 (8 tickets)
Bronze Crab – $500 (6 tickets)
Blue Crab – $250 (4 tickets)
Individual/Couple – $30/$50
Authorized and Paid for By Friends of Jeff Frederick
State law allows the acceptance of both personal and corporate contributions in any amount.
Categories: PWC Politics_, 2007 Elections_, Transportation_