Entry for November 26, 2005

Today, we’ll be wending our way back to Southwest Virginia ahead of all the congestion of Hokies and Highlanders (VA Tech and Radford U students) returning on Sunday from their own Thanksgivings.  Oh for mass transit.   Wonder how Governor-elect Tim Kaine’s transportation summits across the state will play out.

In Roanoke, on  November 16,  Kaine made his first public appearance as Virginia’s governor-elect at a town hall meeting on transportation, the issue that he believes will  define his four years in office.

The Washington Post reported that several hundred local officials, residents and community activists attended.  Kaine had no specifics on how to raise funding.

There always seems to be an issue that is complicated and tough . . . and transportation is that issue for the next governor.

The forum was the first in a series of stops for Kaine including one in Newport News and one for Henrico County and Richmond. The last two meetings will take place on  November 29  in Manassas and in Bristol on December 1.  If you cannot attend, you can write Kaine at transportation@govelect.virginia.gov.  

Said Michael Abraham of Christiansburg,

We need to re-engineer our communities around the needs of people and not around the needs of cars.

As a candidate, Kaine said that he would designate surplus state revenue and tax revenue from insurance premiums for transportation projects. He also said he would explore public-private ventures to build roads and rail lines, but will not seek new money until the state locks up its transportation trust fund, mandating that it not be spent on other needs. House delegates agree, having said repeatedly that such a lock is a top priority.

House Republicans say that additional money brought in by a good state economy, rather than new taxes, should fund transportation improvements. In the Senate,  the Statewide Transportation Analysis and Recommendation Task Force (START)  is working on a transportation package that is expected to suggest raising billions of dollars in new funds.  Republican Senator Chichester, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, will use the commission report to justify new funds.  The commission will next meet on December 15. Bacon’s Rebellion has coverage here.    Roanoke Times coverage is here. To contact START for information email start@leg.state.va.us.  Copies of START’s November 18 report to the Senate Finance Committee and its meeting materials are at http://leg3.state.va.us/quickplace/sfc2005/main.nsf .

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