Last night, the Virginia Senate failed to pass a transportation bill before crossover, the date after which each body of the General Assembly may only consider bills passed by the other house.
With transportation remaining the No. 1 priority of the Northern Virginia business community, Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Jim Corcoran made the following statement said the Chamber was “disappointed in the lack of compromise and leadership in the Virginia Senate on transportation.”
“Failing to pass any of the transportation bills introduced in the Senate was not in the best interest of the Commonwealth, and certainly not Northern Virginia,” Corcoran said.
The Northern Virginia Transportation Alliances noted that the funding debate was hardly Camelot-like.
Over the course of 90 minutes the Senate discussed and killed two proposals – one by Senator Steve Newman to replace the Governor’s 0.8% sales tax increase with a 5.5% sales tax on gasoline. A second by Senator Frank Wagner to replace the per-penny gas tax with an 8% sales tax and included $325 million for the Silver line.
The Newman bill was defeated 18-22; the Wagner measure by 7-28. Not a single Democratic Senator voted for either proposal. Two Republican Senators — Hanger and Watkins — voted against the Newman proposal.
Democrats said neither measure did enough. Republicans said, if the Democrats didn’t like these bills they should propose something better.
Meanwhile the House approved the Governor’s bill (HB 2313) patroned by Speaker Bill Howell by a narrow 53-46 margin. That bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Corcoran said time is running out.
“A study by the Texas Institute shows that transportation issues in Northern Virginia cost the region 1,400 jobs every year. This is the number one issue that puts the region, which drives the economic success of the Commonwealth as a whole, in jeopardy.
“We have one more chance for sustainable transportation funding through the bill passed by the House of Delegates. We urge the Senate to come together and compromise to develop a sustainable transportation funding solution. Leaving Richmond without one is failure.â€