Mike’s response (Write Side of My Brain) to Waldo‘s reaction to Bob McDonnell’s latest transportation comments (Virginia Pilot) sparked my curiosity, largely because McDonnell seemed to actually understand the political and economic error that was HB3202 last year.
To hear Waldo say it, McDonnell is back on the tax-hike bandwagon; Mike, however, reads it differently. After taking a closer look at what McDonnell wrote, I have to say Waldo is right, but he got the money quote wrong.
Waldo focuses on McDonnell’s discussion of potential “gaps” in transportation maintenance funding. He and Mike end up arguing over the meaning of this paragraph:
Legitimate funding gaps can be closed, but part of the solution must be to prioritize and cut other spending from the $78 billion budget.
Waldo seems to ignore the second clause, but even so, McDonnell appears to leave the door open to tax hikes, otherwise spending cuts would be all of the solution, not “part” of it.
The bigger problem, however, comes earlier in the piece, when McDonnell talks about the regional funding wiped out by the Supreme Court:
Part of last year’s bill was undermined by the governor’s amendments transferring funding authority away from locally elected officials to the unelected regional authorities, leading the Supreme Court to invalidate the regional plan, eliminating $600 million in new funding for Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia.
. . .
The regional options for Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia can be easily fixed, legally restoring the total new funding of last year’s bill to $1.2 billion annually.
In other words, McDonnell was and is perfectly content with the Howell version of HB3202, the one which put a gun to the heads of local officials and demanded they raise taxes. For HR and NoVa, this is really a distinction without a difference. More to the point (and sadly so), it means McDonnell has retreated from the small steps he took last month, and is back on board the Howell-Bolling-GOP Establishment local tax increase bandwagon.
That means another line by Waldo was dead on (at least for him and his fellow Democrats):”That 2009 election just looks sunnier and sunnier.” So long as Republicans reduce themselves to arguing with Democrats over how to raise taxes, rather than whether to raise taxes, we’ll lose – every single time.
There are only three people who can stop this train now: Bob Marshall, Jeff Frederick, and (I sincerely hope he’s listening) Jim Gilmore. if the guy who won 49.7% of the vote on Saturday can have the fellow who won the other 50.3% stand with him at the special session, that could be enough get Howell et al to back down (it certainly should be, but we’re talking about Bill Howell here). They will be all more able to do so if Chairman Frederick also signs on with them.