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Wasn’t Transportation the General Assembly’s Top Priority?

Our favorite liberal newspaper in Virginia, the Roanoke Times, which seems far more liberal than even the Washington Post, complains in an editorial today about the Republicans in the General Assembly using General Fund money to pay for transportation.

In the recently concluded 2007 General Assembly, both houses approved HB 3202, a transportation funding package – the House voted 64-34 and the Senate 21-18, according to this Capitol Contact, published by the Virginia Association of Counties. VACo and Gov. Kaine (D) apparently aren’t happy with the bill. In fact, Gov. Kaine has been crisscrossing the state trying to garner support against it. The Capitol Contact also lists major elements of the bill.

We don’t mind the editorializing about the spendthrift ways of the General Assembly since the 2006 report on state spending (requires Adobe) from the General Assembly’s own Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) provides the ammunition. Two of the key findings from the report include:

  • Over the past decade, the state’s operating budget has increased 87%, and
  • After adjusting for inflation (increased 27% from 1997 to 2006) and population growth (14% over the period), Virginia’s budget still increased 25%, an average annual increase of 3%.

Given how the General Assembly has shoveled money to other state programs, it doesn’t bother us one iota if it wants to use money from the General Fund. As the JLARC report shows, K-12 enrollment is up 9% during the 10-year period, but aid to education has increased 31% (inflation adjusted). Or that enrollment in 4-year public colleges and universities is up 14%, but budgets are up 40%.

So, we hope the editorial staff of the Roanoke Times will stop whining. Besides, whether money for transportation comes from the General Fund or the Transportation Trust Fund, we would remind the editorial writers of the Roanoke Times that the money belongs to Virginia taxpayers, and not the Governor or General Assembly.

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