Tax Cards on the Table
Saturday, November 12, 2005 :::
It took about 72 hours, give or take, but all signs now point to a tax hike plan to deal with the transportation "crisis."
Gov.-elect Timothy M. Kaine said yesterday that a financial bailout for the state's beleaguered transportation system requires that he fashion a bipartisan coalition similar to the one that pushed through higher taxes last year.
"The path will be different; the issue will be different," said Kaine, following a private meeting at the Executive Mansion with the fellow Democrat he succeeds in January, Mark R. Warner.
The get-together was designed to signal that both men are committed to an orderly transition to a Kaine administration, which its namesake has suggested would be akin to a second term for the popular Warner.
Kaine, refusing to rule out higher taxes for roads and mass transit, said he has started conversations with some of the moderate Republicans who broke with their party to back Warner's $1.4 billion tax increase for schools, police and social services.
"It will require a bipartisan coalition," Kaine said of a remedy for the lumbering transportation bureaucracy that has been beset by cash shortages and construction delays.
Actually, the path is remarkably similar and the coalition Kaine will attempt to create will be, too. However, the real test will be seeing whether the GOP leadership, and particularly that of Speaker Bill Howell, is ready for the coming debate. Do they have an alternative plan for dealing with transportation? Simply saying "No" is not an option.
I'd wager that what might happen is the GOP members in more heavily urban and suburban districts will face enormous pressure to agree to some sort of tax package. The press, and the administration, and the various interested parties, will climb all over those members, waving election results under their noses as proof that voters are willing to pay more to "solve" the problem.
Given recent history, it just might work.
::: posted by Norman Leahy at 11/12/2005