Not everybody is as pleased as McDonnell about his transportation bill…

posted at 6:41 pm on February 25, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

I find myself torn. On the one hand, Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell has generally managed to keep Virginia’s head on straight in most matters fiscal and economic since he was elected in 2010, but on the other, this whole thing seems mighty convoluted for what is absotively, posilutely not supposed to be a tax increase.

This is Virginia’s gubernatorial election year, and the commonwealth’s governors can’t run for two consecutive terms (love that rule), and McDonnell has been trying to get legislature to agree on some comprehensive funding changes for what are admittedly Virginia’s tricky and demanding transportation expenses (Beltway congestion? Virginia Beach traffic? Shudder) as a grand hallmark of his tenure.

Here’s what happened over the weekend, via Reuters:

Virginia’s Legislature approved on Saturday an overhaul of its transportation funding system, moving the state away from a reliance on gasoline taxes to fix its roads and highways.

The bill providing $880 million a year for transportation passed on the last day of the state’s legislative session and is now headed to Governor Bob McDonnell to sign.

The legislation includes McDonnell’s proposal to scrap the state’s 17.5 cent-per-gallon gasoline tax charged at the pump. It also creates a tax on wholesale gasoline and diesel, raises the sales tax, draws $200 million from the state’s general fund and charges a registration fee for hybrid, electric and alternative-fuel vehicles. …

The final bill was a pretty giant compromise from McDonnell’s original proposal, and there’s no dearth of opinion on how the legislation will play out in practice. Jennifer Rubin at WaPo argues that the historic bill was a big victory for McDonnell’s prospects, present and future:

McDonnell thus ends the last legislative session of his tenure. In his statement he recounted, “Over the past three years, we have cut spending, audited and reformed VDOT, authorized new bonds, used surpluses, issued new public-private partnerships for toll roads, created the Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank, and dedicated two-thirds of all undesignated surplus funds to transportation. We have used every tool provided by law to leverage scarce dollars. Yet those actions were not sufficient to meet the mobility, economic development, and quality of life needs of the people of Virginia. Today, we fixed the problem.” Purists won’t like any tax increase; McDonnell, however, is content in knowing his pragmatic conservatism produced one of the most successful legacies of any governor in recent memory. Together with his education reform bill he will end on a high note.

But Erick Erickson at RedState was less impressed, arguing that the whole hot mess was nothing but a big ol’ cave to big-government spending masqeurading as “leadership”:

Bob McDonnell was getting all kinds of praise on the Sunday shows for his big transportation tax hike, which passed the Virginia legislature this week. He was getting praise from big government liberals like Tim Kaine and Terry McAuliffe and Martin O’Malley for his evenhandedness, his leadership, not like those troublesome conservatives in Washington who refuse to wheel and deal.

That should tell you all you need to know about the transportation tax hike McDonnell pushed through. But it’s a whole lot worse than that when you look at what really went down. …

The initial McDonnell package amounted to a $2.4 billion tax increase over five years. By the time the Virginia legislature was done with it, it had exploded into a $6.1 billion increase. …

People like McDonnell say this is about evenhanded “problem solving”. But really it’s about the fact that they think conservatives are too stupid for there to be any negative consequences for breaking their promises – on taxes, on Obamacare, on anything. There will always be someone more liberal than a guy like McDonnell, so he doesn’t have anything to worry about. He has just shown us how fake he is, and he’s convinced he can continue to fake people out because they’re too dumb to keep track of it all.

And the WSJ thinks that the finagling McDonnell did with the Democrats, on allowing for a bicameral commission to decide whether Virginia will proceed with ObamaCare’s proffered Medicaid expansion, is going to be a tough one to forgive:

Mr. McDonnell claims that “with this bill gas prices will be reduced” because he’s eliminated the 17.5 cents a gallon gas tax. Yet he’s replaced it with a more hidden 3.5% tax on the wholesale price of gas. With wholesale prices nearing $4 a gallon, this is a 14 cents a gallon tax. This new levy will automatically rise with inflation and oil price spikes, which means over time the McDonnell gas tax “cut” may be an increase. …

Mr. McDonnell even cut an 11th-hour deal with Democrats over the expansion of Medicaid under ObamaCare. …

[T]o secure Democratic votes on his tax increase, he agreed to let a bicameral commission decide if the state will expand Medicaid. He agreed even though his attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, issued an opinion that this is an unconstitutional delegation of authority. Mr. McDonnell says the commission means Virginia won’t expand Medicaid as long as Republicans control the legislature, but wait until the hospital lobby gets done working the same Republicans who raised taxes.

Senator Chap Petersen, a Democrat, aptly described the final deal as “a grotesque combination of tax cuts, tax rebates, tax increases, new taxes, old taxes which are phased out (and then reappear elsewhere), regional alliances . . . special projects, and exceptions to all of the above.” …

I’d have to second that — the legislature might be mostly Republican, but why would Democrats have agreed to such a thing if they didn’t think the Medicaid expansion had any kind of shot?

Also, McDonnell’s heir apparent for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, was not on board with the way this all went down — that could make campaign season a little awkward, no?


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Is there a conservative in the house?

predator on February 25, 2013 at 6:48 PM

Not everybody is as pleased as McDonnell about his transportation bill…
posted at 6:41 pm on February 25, 2013 by Erika Johnsen
I find myself torn

…oh don’t do that!

KOOLAID2 on February 25, 2013 at 6:48 PM

Is there a conservative in the house?

predator on February 25, 2013 at 6:48 PM

…NO!…they all just play one!…we need our own Oscars!

KOOLAID2 on February 25, 2013 at 6:49 PM

Just caught Mark Levin on this while in the car. He is NOT happy. He says it also appears the the squishes are ganging up on A.G. Cuccinelli in public, demanding that he moderate his views.

Cindy Munford on February 25, 2013 at 6:49 PM

According to the article in the headlines, McDonnell has no plans to back Cuccinelli. He made a deal with the Lt. Gov.

Cindy Munford on February 25, 2013 at 6:53 PM

He says it also appears the the squishes are ganging up on A.G. Cuccinelli in public, demanding that he moderate his views.

Cindy Munford on February 25, 2013 at 6:49 PM

That would be the Rovians, no?

predator on February 25, 2013 at 6:53 PM

Cuccinelli !

petefrt on February 25, 2013 at 6:54 PM

So what are the tax hikes supposed to fund? Any specific projects, or just generic ‘transportation’?

El_Terrible on February 25, 2013 at 6:56 PM

predator on February 25, 2013 at 6:53 PM

Apparently some “Republican” lady who did not like Pres. Reagan but was a big fan of both Bushes and Ford, took him to task in public. So I’d say chances are like she qualifies as a Rovian.

Cindy Munford on February 25, 2013 at 6:57 PM

That would be the Rovians, no?

predator on February 25, 2013 at 6:53 PM

Hi predator. We’re sending you the tab for last night’s QOTD. Thanks!

22044 on February 25, 2013 at 6:58 PM

At one point Gov. McDonnell was going to put tolls back on bridges that have been toll free and paid for around 20 years. No booths, cameras and bills sent to license plate owners, people were not to choked up about that either.

Cindy Munford on February 25, 2013 at 6:59 PM

Damn RINO’s!

MCGIRV on February 25, 2013 at 6:59 PM

What happens when grass roots volunteers work to get you elected? You are expected to keep your promises, so while the majority of conservatives and the TEA Partys did support him due to his promises when he ran for governor that he’d never raise taxes he has a lot to answer for today.

I expect he will get an ear full when he goes to CPAC since he already has Erick Erickson calling for his head.

Everyone knows that we take a risk when we support any candidate but if you don’t bet you’ll never win. That doesn’t excuse the people who do ZERO research of their candidates though.

We in Michigan got stuck with Snyder when the democrats crossed lines in our primary to vote him in as our candidate, but that blew up in their faces and their efforts to recall Rick crashed and burned.

At least the people in Virginia got off of their lazy boys and tried to elect a decent Governor. Most people cannot lay claim to such magnificent efforts.

DannoJyd on February 25, 2013 at 7:00 PM

Hi predator. We’re sending you the tab for last night’s QOTD. Thanks!

22044 on February 25, 2013 at 6:58 PM

No fair! I tried replying when I saw that comment last night. I couldn’t post comments all night long; they kept disappearing–had to contact the “techies” at Hot Air. They got me going again sometime today.

predator on February 25, 2013 at 7:01 PM

As a resident of northern Virginia, I can’t say that I mind passing a transportation bill. Transportation in this area is atrocious. We have the infrastructure of a Massachusetts suburb with the population density of a Chicagoesque city. Public infrastructure is something that government can, does, and should be funding. It’s not free, and if McDonnell wants to hike taxes to, you know, actually pay for the bills we incur, then I’m fine with that.

That said, the Obamacare-Medicaid expansion commission has no place in a transportation bill and should be stricken.

Stoic Patriot on February 25, 2013 at 7:03 PM

Difficult to square this circle …

Merricks said a family that makes $40,000 a year and spends $11,000 on taxable goods and services will pay $33 more a year in taxes under the bill. If the same family drives 25,000 miles a year in a vehicle that gets 20 miles per gallon, the savings will be between $62 and $63 a year. The difference, he said, is a savings of about $30, depending on gas prices, how much someone drives and other factors.

“It is a good bill for rural Virginia,” Poindexter said, adding that people are forgetting that they are going to pay less gas tax if the bill passes.

and yet …

Merricks noted that in 1976 when the gas tax was set at 17.5 cents, it cost about $25,000 to pave one mile of road. Today, the gas tax is unchanged, but it costs $80,000 to pave one mile, he said.

We’re not getting the purchasing power of the gas tax,” he said, especially with gas sales dropping as more people switch to hybrid and more fuel-efficient vehicles.

“We need to tie transportation to funds that will grow as the economy grows. That’s what this bill does,” Merricks said.

They even used the C word …

Poindexter agreed. “Any time you have 140 people with 140 ideas — 141 including the governor,” compromise is needed, and that is the case with this bill, he said. He said he did not like some things that were changed in the original bill, which he was a copatron of, but “you look at the whole thing and make a judgment on that.”

but at least they’re smarter then us rubes …

Both Merricks and Marshall said they have been receiving phone calls and emails from people urging them to vote against the bill because it is a huge tax increase. The delegates said that is not the case.

Lost in Jersey on February 25, 2013 at 7:03 PM

No fair! I tried replying when I saw that comment last night. I couldn’t post comments all night long; they kept disappearing–had to contact the “techies” at Hot Air. They got me going again sometime today.

predator on February 25, 2013 at 7:01 PM

LOL! You saw the comment…?! We missed you yesterday, it was fun! I learned some things! :)

22044 on February 25, 2013 at 7:03 PM

At least the people in Virginia got off of their lazy boys and tried to elect a decent Governor. Most people cannot lay claim to such magnificent efforts.

DannoJyd on February 25, 2013 at 7:00 PM

There is a state representative hear in Ill-annoy (from Skokie, I believe) who now wants to make the “temporary” state income tax permanent.

Knock me over with a feather.

predator on February 25, 2013 at 7:04 PM

LOL! You saw the comment…?! We missed you yesterday, it was fun! I learned some things! :)

22044 on February 25, 2013 at 7:03 PM

Yep. All I could do was lurk. Got a new system over the weekend, and I had to reset my password. I could log on, but all comments went into the stratosphere.

predator on February 25, 2013 at 7:06 PM

“Hello. I’m not a real fiscal Conservative, but I play one on Television.”

-Bob McDonnell

portlandon on February 25, 2013 at 7:08 PM

I find myself torn.

Erika

I am not going to start by calling you a RINO (unlike how Bill Bolling has evolved).

But I can’t see how any conservative would be in favor of this.

As a person that drives 76 miles round trip everyday to DC from VA I would have loved his original plan, this is a complete nightmare and would gladly pay the same gas prices, driving down the same congested roads (I-66 hell) and hope this does not pass.

F15Mech on February 25, 2013 at 7:09 PM

Conservatives have no meaningful representation in government.

echosyst on February 25, 2013 at 7:10 PM

Gov McDonnell did a fine job in VA

Shame..because VA will elect a big spending liberal loon…VA is blue forever now….

Redford on February 25, 2013 at 7:17 PM

“Traitorous scum! Off with his head!”-Red Queen . And Gov.Rick Scott(Fla.),I’m looking at you too.

SMACKRUNNER on February 25, 2013 at 7:21 PM

I don’t know enough about VA to have an opinion on this, but I will say that we shouldn’t have a knee-jerk reaction every time the word tax is mentioned. You have to look at the whole picture. Reagan raised taxes when he was governor of CA. This was a time when California was still building world class infrastructure and schools. But if you raised taxes in California today it would all get wasted on bloated bureaucracy and overpaid union workers and the schools and infrastructure would still suck. That’s why I don’t vote for tax increase here.

Mark1971 on February 25, 2013 at 7:22 PM

At least the people in Virginia got off of their lazy boys and tried to elect a decent Governor. Most people cannot lay claim to such magnificent efforts.

DannoJyd on February 25, 2013 at 7:00 PM

That is true McDonnell has completely turned around the Kaine administration and has been a great governor. However out Lt Gov has openly stated he is thinking about running as an independent (going Christ) because he is upset he did not get his turn, so I expect the next election will see VA state gov blue instead of the red it is today.

McDonnell needs to preserve what he has done for the Old Dominion and refuse this compromise.

F15Mech on February 25, 2013 at 7:23 PM

Supporting Republicans is like being a Jet fan.

alanstern on February 25, 2013 at 7:35 PM

Yep. All I could do was lurk. Got a new system over the weekend, and I had to reset my password. I could log on, but all comments went into the stratosphere.

predator on February 25, 2013 at 7:06 PM

So, does that mean you have, or have not seen the music video Bmore and I made?

SWalker on February 25, 2013 at 7:37 PM

Virginia Beach traffic?

The land of potholes. It’s atrocious, but Medicaid in a transportation bill??? If a Democrat is happy, then you know the bill stinks.

Also, McDonnell’s heir apparent for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, was not on board with the way this all went down — that could make campaign season a little awkward, no?

Don’t be coy, Erika. Everyone can tell you’re a McDonnell supporter, so you have to know that McDonnell is not a Cuccinelli supporter but picked the moderate Republican Bolling.

conservative pilgrim on February 25, 2013 at 7:47 PM

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II is questioning the legality of a budget deal that provided a framework for Medicaid expansion..

“It is my opinion that the General Assembly may not delegate final legislative authority regarding budget or other matters to a committee composed of a subset of members of the General Assembly,” Cuccinelli wrote.
The chambers could send the budget bill back to a conference committee, which could strip out the offending language and return it to the floor.
But politically, the opinion could torpedoed both bills. Democrats may be unwilling to approve a transportation measure without assurances on Medicaid expansion. It was unclear if they would be willing to give up their leverage by voting on transportation without a deal on Medicaid. And Republicans, already wary of the transportation deal, could withdraw their support if another deal is worked out to smooth the way for Medicaid expansion.

bluefox on February 25, 2013 at 7:58 PM

According to the article in the headlines, McDonnell has no plans to back Cuccinelli. He made a deal with the Lt. Gov.

Cindy Munford on February 25, 2013 at 6:53 PM

I’m sure McDonnell hasn’t been happy with Cuccinelli since as Atty General he sued over Obamacare:-)

Perhaps we need to give all perspective Candidates a lie detector test:-)

bluefox on February 25, 2013 at 8:01 PM

That said, the Obamacare-Medicaid expansion commission has no place in a transportation bill and should be stricken.

Stoic Patriot on February 25, 2013 at 7:03 PM

House and Senate budget negotiators had reached a compromise that would make it easier to expand Medicaid if certain reforms were implemented. Democrats had insisted on the language, saying they would oppose the transportation-funding overhaul if they did not get a written promise from Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) agreeing to the broad outlines of the Medicaid compromise.

bluefox on February 25, 2013 at 8:15 PM

Anyone who has driven in Northern Virginia or Tidewater knows that transportation needs more funding. I would’ve preferred the regional ballot initiatives so that those living in those areas could decide whether or not they wanted to pay for it themselves, but this compromise doesn’t bother me too much.

The Medicaid thing had no business being included, but the Dems were going to try to get something.

As for his support of Bolling, people need to chill. He offered his support as part of an agreement between the two…it has nothing to do with Cuccinelli.

changer1701 on February 25, 2013 at 8:22 PM

Given the number of Prius/Volt-loving libs in NOVA and the slowdown in gas buying because of the economy (who doesn’t carefully budget exactly how many miles they have to drive these days?), I can understand why moving away from the gas tax made sense. And let’s face it–the money to replace those funds had to come from somewhere. Also–Virginia roads are awful. (I’ve read comments on other sites by Virginians saying there’s nothing wrong with the roads, but my answer to that is that they must not have spent much time in states where the roads are actually good. Because Virginia roads are awful.) So, all things considered, I can see how it isn’t a terrible plan.

I don’t know enough about what’s going on with the Obamacare thing to comment knowledgeably except to say it seems to amount to a wager been McDonnell and the Dems–he’s betting the legislature stays Republican, and the Dems are betting it goes Dem. As always when it comes to those situations, whoever wins ends up looking like a brilliant strategist and whoever loses ends up looking foolish.

But what this whole stink reminds me of yet again is how quick conservatives/Republicans are these days to either latch on to a hero (Marco Rubio, Herman Cain, etc.) or condemn and utterly reject one of their own who makes a misstep (perceived or actual). (Disagreeing with questionable policies/legislation? Sure. That’s fine and necessary. Hysterically claiming that “Bob McDonnell thinks you’re an idiot”? No. Provocative. Attention-grabbing. But not helpful.) Anyway–we have to stop it with the manic depressive extremes.

butterflies and puppies on February 25, 2013 at 8:24 PM

I’m not a fan of this limited one four year term. You get elected and immediately you are a lame duck. What’s McDonnell going to do? Run for Senate?

monalisa on February 25, 2013 at 8:32 PM

There is a state representative hear in Ill-annoy (from Skokie, I believe) who now wants to make the “temporary” state income tax permanent.

Knock me over with a feather.

predator on February 25, 2013 at 7:04 PM

Now you know why I moved away from that liberal hellhole 2 decades ago. SHEESH!

McDonnell needs to preserve what he has done for the Old Dominion and refuse this compromise.

F15Mech on February 25, 2013 at 7:23 PM

Agreed! Damn shame that he cannot see that today.

DannoJyd on February 25, 2013 at 8:47 PM

Bob McDonnell was getting all kinds of praise on the Sunday shows for his big transportation tax hike

That should be enough for people in the GOP.

If a politician is praised by the Press they are in lock step with the DNC. The Press is just the Propaganda wing of the DNC after all. If they like you you are doing their biding it really is that simple.

McConnell is a GOPe to the max. He lied when he ran for office and is not the least bit for what he ran on small Government. No he is for making Government as big of possible. The opposite of Tea Party.

Steveangell on February 25, 2013 at 8:54 PM

I live in Va. Beach…have been here for over 17 years.

Our roads here are awful…God awful.
And we are home to the largest Navy Base…we are the home port for multiple carrier groups.

We are also a pretty sizeable port for the east coast….if we had better roads, we would probably rival NY.

I think anytime you deal with taxes, it isn’t gonna be pretty…
But every stat politician (left or right) will agree that the gas tax is a revenue loser since cars get better mileage with better technology.
Not to mention you have some places who want to implement a flat fee on people who buy a Toyota Prius…all at the behest of Government….only to be charged for doing what Government wants.

But I do hope with this legislation we do get some funding for road projects around here, because we desperately we need it.

Congestion sucks, and we have pot holes that could sink a bus.
I heard a story of a guy on a motorcycle over the weekend, died as he was entering one of our tunnels. The report cited a pot-hole as being the probable cause of the accident….
That is pathetic.

MityMaxx on February 25, 2013 at 9:14 PM

I live in a small town about 45-70 minutes south of Roanoke VA.

Our roads suck.

Hampton roads suck
Norfolk roads suck
NoVA’s roads (and congestion and traffic routing) are horrible.

Guess what……if we want something fixed we have to PAY FOR IT. As much as I hate the democrats inclusion of the MedicAid expansion this needed to happen for a LONG LONG time.

I personally voted for more bonds and a (very small) local tax hike in November 2011. Why? Because our roads are rotten round here-we’ve had minor repairs done every few years but since the additional tax revenue they’ve actually had the money LOCALLY to start repairing a major roadway that was much too narrow for it’s current usage as a main town road.

The project is well underway and the bulk will be done by this summer (prep work started last spring and then actual construction began last August/September).

Since I deliver pizza I value the roads my vehicle drives 2,000 miles per month.

SgtSVJones on February 25, 2013 at 9:38 PM

sell out!! I thought VA was in the black?
he shouldn’t be surprised when he doesn’t get the backing he’ll be looking for next November.
Someone PLEASE primary his a$$.

mmcnamer1 on February 25, 2013 at 10:20 PM

sell out!! I thought VA was in the black?
he shouldn’t be surprised when he doesn’t get the backing he’ll be looking for next November.
Someone PLEASE primary his a$$.

mmcnamer1 on February 25, 2013 at 10:20 PM

In Virginia it’s one and done..He’s term limited. Not going to be on the primary ballot.

Oldnuke on February 25, 2013 at 10:32 PM

I heard on the radio yesterday that this bill includes a tax of $100-$150 for owners hybrids. Apparently, said owners aren’t spending enough money on gas (and gas taxes) and therefore must be punished. I say that if this is how McDonnell goes out, his time as governor of my fair state will not be fondly remembered.

Physics Geek on February 26, 2013 at 8:31 AM

Is there a conservative in the house?

NO!

To quote the 10th Dr. Who “What? What? What” Isn’t it bad enough that gas taxes are hidden for the most part. Do we now have to have them futher built into the price as wholesale taxes. Sounds like an open door to “increased revenue” if you ask me.

georgeofthedesert on February 26, 2013 at 6:27 PM