By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell previewed his transportation agenda for the 2011 regular session on Thursday, Dec. 9. Among the highlights are plans to borrow about $3 billion during the next three years and reroute money to the transportation budget.
Speaking at a transportation conference in Roanoke, VA, the governor provided an early look at what he will urge lawmakers to approve during the session that begins Jan. 12, 2011.
To boost funding for local road projects, McDonnell wants to apply $150 million from last year’s budget surplus and another $250 million recovered from an audit of the state Department of Transportation.
The governor is also urging the issuance of two bonds totaling $2.9 billion. About $1.8 billion in bonds are backed by the state. Another $1.1 billion would come from federal GARVEE bonds.
The Grant Anticipated Revenue Vehicle bonds program allows states to borrow money against the annual federal transportation funding designated to pay for construction. The sale is based on the assumption that federal funding in future years would pay off the bonds. This allows states to get money needed up front.
McDonnell cited construction prices that have fallen dramatically in recent years and interest rates, which are at historic lows, as incentives to get to work.
“Right now is the best time in modern Virginia history to get new roads and bridges built,” McDonnell said in a statement.
Critics of the governor’s bonding plans say it is reckless for the state to be running up more debt.
McDonnell has said he has no interest in raising taxes.
Another proposal calls for a constitutional amendment to permanently protect transportation funds from transfer to the general fund.
The governor’s complete package of budget amendments is scheduled to be revealed next week to the General Assembly. Additional transportation proposals are expected to be made public prior to the opening of the regular session.
To view other legislative activities of interest for Virginia, click here.
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