A few transportation bills

Regarding the current special transportation session and wondering how these part-time legislators are able to wade their way through this labyrinthian morass, I am picking and choosing a few bills of interest:

SB 5016: Failed regarding the NoVa regional transportation tax

the grantors tax is raised from $0.20 per $100 of value to $0.30 per $100 of the value of the real estate being recorded, with an additional local option grantors tax at a rate of $0.10 per $100 of the value of the real estate.

SB 5013: Failed regarding funding of transportation

authorizing local governments to impose a local grantor’s tax at the rate of 30 cents for each $100 of value with the revenues to be used for local or regional transportation projects;

Regarding 5013 and 5016: imposing such a narrow tax from which everybody will benefit is simply wrong. The grantor’s tax taxes only the seller of real estate. Believe it or not, everybody who uses our transportation system does not sell property every year. Finding a broad-based, sustainable tax targeted solely for transportation and out of the hands of greedy politicians must be the primary goal.

I was in a meeting last week and the following point was made – the state is not the one who is sending the unfunded mandate to maintain and build road to the localities, it is the localities who are sending the unfunded mandate to the state through their continued approvals of developments that lack the supporting infrastructure. I remain unsure as to how I feel about this argument, but it was the first time I had heard that argument made; therefore I am curious.

HB 5096:

Prohibits taking additional streets into the state secondary highway system on or after January 1, 2007, unless they are within an area subject to control by a homeowners’ association.

Alas:

The House Counties, Cities and Towns Committee decided to defer action on land use legislation championed by House Speaker William J. Howell and other Republicans in favor of studying the proposals.

Statewide transportation plan. Because with a plan, everything will be peachy. By the time they finish the plan, we’ll be teleporting everywhere.

The plan shall include quantifiable and achievable goals relating to congestion reduction and safety, transit and HOV usage, job/housing ratios, job and housing access to transit and pedestrian facilities, air quality, and/or per-capita vehicle miles traveled. The Board shall consider such goals in evaluating and selecting transportation improvements.

Another layer of bureaucracy to ensure accountability.

So far, 1.3% of proposed bills have been approved, after having been passed by both the House and the Senate.

Note: If you’re not paying attention, you are doing yourself a grave disservice.
Note: I hope to never write another post with as many dreadful run-on sentences.

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3 Comments

  1. Ray Hyde September 30, 2006 at 22:45

    Some people feel that developers and “Newcomers” create the demand for additional services, especially roads. The grantors tax essentially charges newcomers. If you buy the first argument then the grantors tax makes sense.

    In my home town they used a similar plan to raise money for conservation purchases, easements, beach access and other public amenities. This made sesne because the people who were developing were also paying for conservation.

    I agree with you that this tax is too narrow and benefits many who won’t pay. On the other hand, it is kind of a tax on instability: people don’t like change.

    But, we live in a highly mobile society. I believe it should be easy and inexpensive to change homes in order to encourage people to live where they work.

    I don’t know that localities have much choice but to approve development. If they refuse then it is like squeezing a balloon, those people have already happened and they are going to live somewhere. If the issue is lack of infrastructure, then it is going to have to be planned and paid for. The question is do you bring in more people and have them help pay, or do you stick all the bill on the existing residents until the infrastructure exists and is paid for, and then open the door.

    I think the argument that localities are wrongfully approving development without sufficient infrastructure is disingenuous. The next time someone says that, ask him how much he is willing to raise taxes on himself to make the infrastructure available to others. The real answer is that we don’t want the infrastructure, the bills to provide it, or the others to use it: we don’t like change.

    Change is going to happen anyway. The alternative is stagnation and unemployment. Deferring the process of planning, or calling for more study is amatter of strategic stalemate: we don’t like change, so we will put it off as long as possible.

    If the plan is really to include quantifiable and achievable goals relating to congestion reduction and safety, transit and HOV usage, job/housing ratios, job and housing access to transit and pedestrian facilities, air quality, and/or per-capita vehicle miles traveled, then what happens to personal interests? Doesn’t this sound like the government is going to plan every aspect of your life and investments? Where does the free market have room to play in this?

    Does anybody really think the government is mart enough to do this? No, of course not. In practice the way we do this is a kind of giant Delphi process, where each person makes decision based on the cards on the table, the conditions at hand, the rules of the game, personal preference, and money in the pot.

    If the rules of the game are constantly changing according to the wishes of special interests, or if the rules of the game are that the government is going to make all your moves for you, then what fun is that? There are some things that really shouldn’t change, and the ability to benefit or be hurt by your own decisions is one of them.

    The way we wind up making the best global decisions is by summing up all the goodindividual decisions. It is how we apply maximum brainpower to a complex (and constantly changing) problem.

    The way we generate the most public benefit is by summing up all the individual benefits. The morons who actually believe that a statewide transportation plan can balance all those variables described and actually work, just don’t get it.

  2. Jim Duncan October 2, 2006 at 06:50

    The grantors tax essentially charges newcomers.

    The grantor’s tax is a tax on the Sellers, rather than the buyers. Granted, the sellers pass it on to the buyers in the purchase price, but I have never (yet) seen it deliberately factored into the price when we are determining the asking price for a home.

    There are some things that really shouldn’t change, and the ability to benefit or be hurt by your own decisions is one of them

    Unfortunately, this goes against the grain of virtually everything that most levels of government are trying to accomplish.

    I don’t have the answers, but believe that solutions can be found where those involved have concerns other than re-election at the forefront of the analysis and decision-making process.

  3. Pingback: Are homebuyers and sellers the only ones who need transportation? | Real Central VA