McDonnell's Transportation Plan Is a Joke

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I've been spending some time lately with Bob McDonnell's transportation plan, and like just about everything else in the McDonnell campaign, it is mostly vapor.

What is interesting about the transportation plan, however, is that unlike the distortion Bob uses to misrepresent his record in so many other areas (Choice, gay rights, education, etc., etc., etc.), in his transportation plan he doesn't even bother making a pretense that he is at all serious about the issue.

Bob, for example, has a few suggestions for funding our critical transportation improvements, a problem that has vexed the Commonwealth for years, that demonstrates his unseriousness:

1. He wants to expedite approval of $3 billion in transportation bonds that have already been authorized. One problem area, of course, is that bonds aren't free -- the Commonwealth will need to pony up interest payments every year for investors. Where will that money come from, given that we are already running a budget deficit? Don't fear -- Bob explains (and I am not making this up) he "will find a suitable additional revenue stream to pay debt service" if the anticipated revenue stream is insufficient.

Well, that's good enough for me. It's the follish politician that gets more specific than that!

2. Bob is also proposing issuing bonds in an amount that he recognizes might jeopardize the Commonwealth's Triple-A rating, although Bob says "every effort will be made" to avoid this.

Every effort? Is this a joke. Virginia, that Triple-A rating is money in the bank for the Commonwealth. It would be governmental malpractice to lose that rating. How about, "Virginia will not lose its Triple-A rating, period."

3. Bob notes the law requires the Governor to set aside a portion of new revenue growth for infrastructure improvement in the budget following the increase. Of course, thanks to George W. Bush's wonderful economic legacy, we won't be seeing this for a while.

4. Dedicate a portion of the -- again, I am not making this up -- budget surplus to transportation. hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

5. Push the Federal Government to spend Stimulus funds quicker. Wait a second, I thought the stimulus was a waste and could not possibly do any good. And what about state's rights? What is Bob talking about here? I'm getting a headache.

6. Bob's plan for pursuing private partnerships is 750 words, but for all the verbiage, it amounts to the following: It would be great if we could get private companies to fund this for us. Does anyone know how to do that?

Sure, there are some legitimate ideas in Bob's plan worth pursuing -- even a broken clock is right twice a day as the saying goes -- but these are relatively tiny sources of funds, or highly speculative, and we'd be lucky to raise enough money to repave my driveway.

Look, everyone knows what is going on here. Bob is ideologically opposed to raising taxes in any circumstances, even when the increase would be modest in its impact on individuals and hugely beneficial in its effect upon the Commonwealth -- like a few pennies on the gas tax. And like any economic policy steeped in ideology, it is illogical and dangerous, and if we elect Bob to be governor, it will be a disaster for the Commonwealth, most significantly NoVA and Hampton Roads.

What Virginia needs is a Governor like Creigh who is willing to face this problem head on and fix it in a serious and effective way, not just tell people what they want to hear, i.e., that government can fix your problems at no cost. As we saw with Bush, that simply leads to economic failure.

But Bob, apparently, expects the citizens of Virginia, to do this: