A few stories today bear out my points of yesterday.
The first has to do with this threat the Senate is holding over the House.
The House negotiators who met yesterday grumbled about the language in the Senate’s “contingency plan”–the Senate bill gives $339 million in general fund money to transportation, but only if the House agrees to a comprehensive, adequate-to-the-needs statewide transportation plan by Nov. 1.
House members said words like “adequate” are not legally defined, and they sounded reluctant to agree to such terms.
“All of those terms are undefined,” said Del. Leo Wardrup, R-Virginia Beach. “I just think it’s a problem.”
That debate has the potential to make voters eyes glaze over. Is this really “adequate” or “sustainable” or “reliable” or any of the other terms the Senate and Governor have used to describe the funding scheme they want? I can only guess where that will lead us.
And then there is the potential political cost.
“It is a political victory because Governor Warner ate their lunch two years ago, and very few people expected the governor to prevail,” said Mark Rozell, professor of public policy at George Mason University. “Thus, they were doubly determined to have a unified front, and in that they succeeded.
“The downside is as we move into the 2007 election and voters are frustrated with the lack of any substantial initiative on transportation many of the those incumbents who stood firm could get the blame,” Mr. Rozell said.
…House Republicans in congested areas could pay a “high political price in the long run,” said Toni-Michelle Travis, associate professor of government at George Mason University. “It will be costly in the sense that Northern Virginia will now target officials that would not put more money into transportation, and therefore [they could] lose their elections.”
Don’t think the House Republican leadership hasn’t thought about this. All one needs to do is look at how well Kaine did in November in some of the districts of House Republicans. For example, Kaine lost by only 1.6% in Howell’s district (absentee ballots and Potts votes not included). He swamped Kilgore in Phil Hamilton’s, Dave Albo’s Vince Callahan’s, Jeff Frederick’s and Michele McQuigg’s districts. He won in at least 14 Republican districts. Now if the Dems would at least run somebody in everyone of those districts, maybe not having a transportation plan brings victory that lasts a decade (i.e., redistricting).