Virginia surplus gives transportation a lift

| 8/23/2010

Part of a budget surplus in Virginia that is nearly twice as much as initially expected will be earmarked for transportation.

A month ago Gov. Bob McDonnell announced a surplus of about $220 million aided by tax collections that exceeded revised expectations. He announced in the past week that another $174 million would be added to the projection because of cost-cutting maneuvers by state agencies.

Transportation work will get a shot to the arm because of the surplus. HB3202, a transportation package approved during the 2007 regular session, requires a portion of future general fund surpluses to be applied to transportation. It will designate $32.7 million for transportation purposes.

“This is a very small new investment in transportation, but it demonstrates what will be possible when better economic conditions return to the Commonwealth,” McDonnell said in prepared remarks to lawmakers.

In addition to higher than anticipated general funds, revenue in the state’s transportation fund also exceeded predictions by $64.4 million. Sales taxes from increased vehicle sales are mostly credited for the growth.

Increased revenues this year for Virginia roads and bridges might not be done. There is about $88 million remaining from the surplus. McDonnell has until Nov. 1 to recommend to the General Assembly how the money should be spent. Among the budgets that are being considered to receive a portion of the funds is transportation.

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– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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