leaders in the Washington, DC, area are tapping money intended
for road construction and repairs to help resolve their budget
problems, The Washington Post reported.
transportation funds – with their big balances and projects
that take years to complete – have become irresistible.
Virginia, close to $2.2 billion from fuel and sales taxes
will flow into the state's transportation trust fund this
year, so Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) and Republican lawmakers
are hoping the $63 million they are diverting to help balance
the state's budget will never be missed.
Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) has proposed using
$500 million from the state's transportation fund to prevent
massive budget cuts. He says he can do so without doing serious
harm to the state's road and transit system.
and Warner are taking advantage of state constitutions that
do not seal off transportation money. Voters in many other
states long ago passed constitutional amendments guaranteeing
transportation money would not be diverted during difficult
leaders in the region say they can tap into the funds temporarily
without slowing down construction of roads and rails. But
suburban business leaders and some lawmakers insist the practice
threatens the effort to ease traffic congestion.