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Peter’s Take: Why McDonnell Failed as Governor

By Peter Rousselot - ARLNow.com

Tuesday - 1/15/2013, 2:00pm  ET

Peter RousselotHe’s still got one more year in office, but we already know that Bob McDonnell has failed as Virginia’s Governor. He never proposed a real plan to solve the major problem facing Virginia: how to generate enough public revenue to pay for our transportation systems.

We should have known.

We should have known when McDonnell said he could solve our transportation problems with a flawed proposal to sell off Virginia’s publicly-owned liquor stores. He campaigned on this idea in 2009, and spent his first year in office trying to get his flawed plan enacted.  Those were two wasted years.

We should have known when McDonnell said he could solve our transportation problems using Virginia’s Public-Private Transportation Act (PPTA).  In practice, the PPTA has produced tremendous distortions in risk allocation, allowing private sector companies unjustly to enrich themselves while forcing the public sector into wasting hundreds of millions of our tax dollars on ill-conceived projects.

In 2013, Bob McDonnell is giving transportation funding one last try. He won’t succeed. How do we know? Because he’s already proved that he lacks a strategic plan to generate sufficient public revenue for transportation. What’s missing from all his plans: sufficient new tax increases to generate the necessary funds.

The higher taxes we need to fund Virginia’s transportation systems have to be enough higher to solve the problem. McDonnell’s latest plan does involve an increase in the state sales tax, but that increase is way too little to generate the necessary funds. And, McDonnell is also proposing to eliminate the main current source of funding for transportation: the gas tax. Finally, the sales tax is used to fund many other vital programs, like education and mental health services, which also need more revenue, but will lose revenue to help try to pay for transportation.

Excusing past failures by saying a real solution will be DOA in the Virginia legislature is not an excuse.

Governor McDonnell: take a stand, propose a real solution and fight for it. Maybe you’ll get your plan enacted, maybe you won’t. Why not try?

Wouldn’t it be better in the end to propose a real solution and fall short rather than an inadequate solution and fall shorter?

Peter Rousselot is a member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee. Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column published on Tuesdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.