The Manassas Journal-Messenger reports today on the success local members of the House of Delegates are having in moving some transportation initiatives through the General Assembly. Instead of looking for new and improved ways to extract ever-increasing quantities of taxpayer dollars from the citizenry, they’re working to improve the way Virginia allocates funding and plans for projects. These delegates certainly heard the voters loud and clear when they overwhelmingly rejected tax increases in the past, and are instead working for better fiscal responsibility and accountability.
Delegate Scott Lingamfelter has moved his bill which will require that VDOT funds be prioritized to favor projects which relieve congestion and improve safety will move to the floor on Wednesday. This novel concept, that you spend money where it’s needed rather than where it’s not is a critical part of reforming the way transportation dollars are allocated and would make a huge difference to Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. Hopefully the overwhelming sensibility of this proposal will ensure it’s passage and demonstrate to tax raising naysayers stuck on gloom-and-doom such as Democratic candidate Jeanette Rishell that solutions like this can be passed, and will measurably help relieve traffic congestion. It’s worth noting that Jackson Miller, her Republican opponent is strongly in favor of reforming VDOT’s spending priorities and is very supportive of this initiative. Passage of this measure would help prove that the solutions favored by Republican members of , and candidates for the House of Delegates are workable, achievable and will help improve gridlock in Northern Virginia.
Delegate Jeffrey Frederick’s proposal to allow more local control over road projects is temporarily stalled in the counties, cities and towns committee. This bill would allow impact fees charged to developers to be used in road construction on state projects, not only allowing for local decisionmaking by the folks who have to live with these projects, but increasing the amount of money available to fund them. Local decisionmaking usually produces superior results, although developer interests may not be very fond of this proposal since it moves the decisionmaking process from Richmond, where the lobbyists are, to the localities, where the citizens are. It’s a solid proposal, and with the strong support of Speaker Howell, it should make it out of committee.
Perhaps most interesting is Delegate Robert Marshall’s demand that the legislature provide some oversight regarding a scheme to transfer the Dulles Toll Road from VDOT to the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority. This should be a no-brainer, particularly given MWAA’s history of believing it is an organization not accountable to the citizens which has the power to impose laws and regulations without consent by the Virginia legislature, such as restrictions on the posession of firearms in non-sterile areas of the Dulles airport such as the commuter parking lots, sections of Route 28, and the drop-off and pick-up areas. This unaccountable organization may perhaps do a good job of executing a transportation project (Dulles Airport is really easy to travel from, right?), but it will certainly want to impose it’s own rules for what is legal and not legal on MWAA controlled property regardless of the provisions of Virginia law. Delegate Marshall’s proposal ensures that any decision to transfer this property is reviewed by the legislature, which is the very minimum of oversight which citizens should be demanding of the state.
The complete set of solutions offered by Democrats, such as Jeanette Rishell is “raise taxes” and “create a dedicated funding source”. There’s a clear difference in approach here that voters should carefully consider, as the Prince William County delegation moves forward with strong proposals to make better use of the taxpayer dollars while the Democrats complain that we will be unable to improve our infrastructure and reduce gridlock unless we raise taxes once again.
Delegates Lingamfelter, Frederick, and Marhsall are to be commended.
UPDATE: Jeanette Rishell posted today her latest revision of her transportation policy, which includes (surprise) reform of VDOT spending priorities. If we can keep this up, jeanette Rishell is going to eventually morph into a conservative Republican.
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