Troubled Virginia Transportation Plan Needs Re-Start

Washington, D.C. – February 6, 2013 – As Virginia’s state Senate considers a bill that largely embodies Gov. Bob McDonnell’s proposed overhaul of state transportation funding, the Competitive Enterprise Institute continues to urge lawmakers to take a different approach. Marc Scribner, CEI’s fellow in land use and transportation studies, says the governor’s plan would increase funding risk and abandon a long-held fiscally conservative guiding principle – that transportation funding should be derived from users.

Here is his response:

It appears increasingly likely that Gov. McDonnell’s misguided transportation plan will not pass the General Assembly this session. This is good news. The McDonnell plan suffered from several serious flaws, including a general shift away from a user-pays funding system by abandonment of the excise tax on gasoline and reliance on speculative sales tax revenue and general fund transfers for transportation.

Although Gov. McDonnell’s desire for comprehensive reform of transportation policy in Virginia is understandable, his current plan represents a major step in the wrong direction and could set a dangerous nationwide precedent.

The Senate should reject the House-passed proposal and begin work on a serious transportation plan that maintains and strengthens the user-pays/user-benefits principle. There is no other responsible way forward, and legislators should avoid falling prey to shortsighted fiscal gimmicks.

On Tuesday, the Richmond Times-Dispatch published an article by Scribner that goes into greater detail on the problems with the McDonnell plan and possible solutions.