The 17-day transportation session wrapped up in the wee hours of the morning yesterday, and nothing was accomplished. The legislature only met during six of those days. The Republican majority in the House of Delegates would not increase taxes to cover the costs of expanding and maintaining transportation infrastructure, with Majority Leader Morgan Griffith (R-Salem) saying that “it’s not the time for massive tax increases.” Republicans blame Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, for calling for a special session without having established support for a particular solution to the funding problem; Kaine says that Republicans simply refused to provide any solutions and weren’t willing to work with him on his proposals.
As a temporary solution to the shortfall, the state has called off $388M in road construction, reallocating all of that funding to this year’s maintenance costs. The state is fast reaching the point at which all transportation funding will be locked up in maintenance, with none available for new construction, followed by annual maintenance shortfalls as the road network ages out.
The legislature was also unable to agree on judges to fill vacancies in the State Corporation Commission and the State Supreme Court. Most legislators believe that another special session is unlikely, meaning that the General Assembly will next convene in January of 2009.