01/11/2018 Senate Proceedings

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Minutes

Called to order at 12 m. by Lt. Governor Ralph S. Northam

Prayer offered by The Reverend Stephen NcNally, Church of the
Transfiguration, Fincastle, Virginia

ROLL CALL OF MEMBERS: quorum present

Motion of Senator Dance dispensed with reading of Journal (35?Y
3?N)

MESSAGE FROM HOUSE: House agreed to HJR 127

Rules suspended, privileges of the floor given to distinguished
guests (39?Y 0?N)

BILLS REPORTED

Education and Health: SB 76S, 103, 134, 227, 269S, 287, 295, 304,
330A

Bills and resolutions prefiled, ordered printed and referred under
30-19.3 of the Code of Virginia: see January 12 Senate Calendar

HJR 127 - Rules suspended, taken up for immediate consideration,
agreed to (voice vote)

 

Transcript

What follows is a transcript of this day’s session that was created as closed-captioning text, written in real time during the session. We have made an effort to automatically clean up the text, but it is far from perfect.

[Unknown]
The clerk will proceed with the calendar.
[Unknown]
Mr. Speaker, turning to Page 21 of the calendar, Page 21, received a conference report for House bill 2313. A bill to amend and reenact various sections of the code of Virginia relating to revenues and appropriations of the commonwealth and the conference report has been distributed.
[Unknown]
The yeah from Suffolk, Mr. Jones.
[Unknown]
I'd say the title is self splan story and I move to pass the conference report. Just kidding. Mr. Speaker, ladies and gentlemen of the House, I first want to thank governor mcdonnell for his determination in pursuing and pressing the issue when many of us, myself included, told him there wasn't enough time to build a consensus or compelling case for sustainable comprehensive solution to fix our transportation system. And even if we could come to an agreement of what we ought to do, that in a short session, if all 100 members of the House up for re-election, to say it would be a heavy lift would be an understatement. But today, what we have before us is just that, a conference report. Many of you have been here since I came and a big class came in 2001. When I look at what we have attempted to do in the last 12 to 13 years, we have gone from trying a vta of 2000 to the regional Reverend da in 2002, and we adopted a bond package in 2003, only to be defeated in Senate finance. 2004, we had a long debate and discussion, but at the end of the day when a compromise was reached to end that session that felt like it would never end, it did not include transportation. Many of us have looked back on that as a mistake, that we did not do what we should have been done at that time. And I shared that opinion and for many years have regretted fact that we didn't do it then because of what has occurred since. Today we have, by whatever account you want to use, 300 to $400 million per year that we could have used for construction going into maintenance. 2006, 2007, with 3202 and then we had a special session in situate, and, of course, last year we had authorization for additional bonding capacity. We've ramped up the 3202 bonds, done everything that we can do and as the governor has told me only -- on many cautious, we've used every tool in the toolbox that we've given him. He was determined, and glad that he was, to put something before this body just before we convened? January. He asked the speaker to carry the bill and as most of you know, speakers normally do not carry bills. They make sure bills are referred to committees and that they are properly dealt with in a fair way. But our speaker has demonstrated tremendous leadership over the years. 2007, he was the patron of 3202. Last year, he was a patron of the vrs reform. And this conference report before you today bears his name. Transportation conferees, I do want to thank them before I get into explaining the bill. When the speaker asked myself and doc and beverly and dave and osley, what he told us to do was find a solution that would help address our transportation problems for the next generation. He did not tell us what to do. He asked us to find a solution to deal with what we have not been able to wrestle and grasp in the last 12 years. And I will tell you that the conference committee members from the Senate were willing from the beginning to reach across where the Washington statue is to this end of the capitol and meet us more than halfway on our ideas, and we did more than halfway with their ideas, so to speak, in the beginning. But to get to this point, we had to have a bill to get into conference and I want to thank those from the other side of the aisle who gave us a chance to get a report to the floor, a bill to the floor. Delegates Keam, Lewis, Johnson and James. What you did, you said you'd give us a chance. What you told me individually was you didn't like the bill that was before you. You thought it was not robust enough, but that you trusted the speaker to bring something and try to fashion a compromise that would fix our challenges that we have today. Then when we get to the floor, there were four of you, of course, I was watching the board, didn't even vote, and that voted for us, this bill, delegates, Ware, Tyler, Dance and Torian, and for that, I am very grateful. And I must give a shoutout to vivian, to tell my wife I was with another woman Friday night, last Friday night, it was vivian and we were in her office on the fifth floor going over spreadsheets when she told me to pull up a chair and I said good thing I 've had dinner. And that was a joke, vivian. And we worked and we fashioned something, I believe, that is bipartisan in nature. It's comprehensive, it grows over time, it gives money and puts money into two regions that are dealing with the stress of prosperity over sometime in northern Virginia with -- over time in northern Virginia with just the amount of growth in our federal government and the technology sector, and our port, which we unified over 30-some years ago. I do want to thank two other groups before I get into the bill. I want to thank our own House appropriation staff and jason powell of the Senate finance committee. I was joking to someone yesterday, I had to do transportation 101. I have never been on the transportation full committee. I've never served on the transportation subcommittee on appropriations, so when vivian starting talking last Friday night about all these things because she used to be the secretary, I was like vivian, you have to slow down, I have no idea what you're talking about. You have to explain to it me. What she did, she gave me spreadsheets and showed me what the calculation would do if we did a, b, c, and d, and that prepared me for the conference when we began to Sunday. I want to make sure that I thank both jason and ann for their good work and finally, the folks in legislative services whom I worry to death. They were on call this past weekend and I had them come in. Unfortunately for them, I think it was Wednesday night, I think ann and jason stayed after midnight and they started putting together the about they'll you have before you now -- the bill that you have before you now. I wish we could have had it before you yesterday afternoon, but we wanted to make sure it was technical correct and all the tenets of our agreement were before you in a proper manner. What I 'd like to do now, then I 'll be glad to answer any questions that you do have, we had the briefing this morning and generally what you have before you is a bill that will change the way that we collect our gas taxes from a cents per gallon to an at the rack. Currently we have 17.5 cents we are gallon and we're going to a 3.5% at the rack wholesale. A sales tax that works to about 10.5 to 11 cents per gallon if you want to do the math. As of the day when we signed the conference report, which was Wednesday. We then adjusted the sales tax from 5 to 5.3% with the entirety of that delta going to transportation. Then if you remember, when the bill left the House, we had taken out the fees for hybrid and alternative vehicles, but we had the fee for registration for your vehicle of an increase of $15 per year per vehicle. We got into conference. One of the tenets of what we had talked about as conferees was that we wanted to make sure that we didn't make the same mistakes while well-intended in 1986, that we didn't have a source of revenue that would grow over time. If you remember the spreadsheet from the original bill that was introduced and that passed the House, it was a flat figure over the first -- the five years. In the course of our negotiations, the Senate had made an offer to put on the table the titling tax on the sale of vehicles and when we looked at the numbers, we saw it was a growing source of revenue over time and that some felt we could drop the registration fee, which was an every-year occurrence, and replace it with the titling tax. Then as we continued our discussions along in the conference report, we had to make sure we had a target of at least 850 to $900 million per year, which was our target all along, and as you might remember, we had $283 million of general fund, which was a 5-5-5 and 5 over a five-year period of existing general fund, which is that $283 million. Then the governor had put in the marketplace equity act -- you want to come this way? Okay. The marketplace equity act, which was about $200 million in year five. There was some concern on the Senate that we have a, quote/unquote, real dollar in year four because that's when we hit about $500 million on our maintenance crossover issue as we exist today. If you look on the power point that you received, you will see in year four that we are above the $500 million mark. That was critically important to the conferees, both House and Senate. And as we continue to fashion a compromise, we wanted to make sure that if in fact the marketplace equity did not occur, that we would have a fail-safe or a backup for that, so you will notice in one of the enactment clauses, we have a 1.6% increase in the wholesale Price of non-diesel fuel that would go into effect if, in fact, by January 1st, 2005, the marketplace equity act does not occur. Now, we were very concerned that if that didn't occur by that date, but it occurred after that date, that we would then have an untrigger, we would unwind that 1.6% back, because we had a present-day value through the fiftyth year of what marketplace equity would do for transportation. So all that having been said, there was a concern that the Senate had that we would lose a market -- if marketplace didn't happen, we would lose general funds for education. There's a 1% piece of the sales tax that's collected, local sales tax, which was done back in 1966, mills godwin, that 50% goes to transportation, 50% goes to any use that they would like. And that, I believe, was around $135 million. So their concern was if we did not have marketplace equity, it would not just backfill the money for transportation, but that we would backfill the entire amount because fair is fair the way we collect our sales tax today. So we agreed in the conference on the House side to backfill that money to make sure that at the end of the day, that what we had was a plan that really delivered the money that we claimed it delivered in year five. That was critically important to Delegate Albo and the other members of the conference report, and then the regional plans, I 'll just briefly touch on those and then we got a few other folks that would like to speak after y'all ask me questions. Northern Virginia has been the leader for the last five to six years, I would guess, trying to fashion a plan that would work for them to take care of their congestion. They have got issues with the silver line and trying to find money for transit and for rail. And so what we decided was we would let those in the region decide how they would like to raise their money to be able to stay within their region, to build what they felt was important to their constituents. So in Hampton roads, we decided that what we would do is increase the -- we would normalize our gas tax rate to the existing northern Virginia gas tax rate at 2.1%, which gives us about another $60 million in year five, and then what we decided to do, the nova folks and Hampton roads, we would take and move our sales tax up to 6%, which would give us a 0.7% increase. With all of those monies going to the region to be spent. Northern Virginia generates about $345 million, I think either year quon or year five -- year one or year five, I can't remember, but in Hampton roads, it generates about $220 million in year five. So with all that having been said, we felt very strongly that if in fact we were to offer solutions for the state, for northern Virginia, for Hampton roads, that there needed to be some certainty that we would, at the end of the day, have what we had decided to do. So we agreed that we would impose those taxes and fees from Richmond for those two regions, northern Virginia and Hampton roads. Because the last thing that I wanted to do is provide a statewide fix, have northern Virginia get their problems fixed and then Hampton roads not have their problems fixed. As we know, the port is about a $41 billion asset to us and if we can't get those teus in and out of Hampton roads, then Galax, front royal, we all suffer. So we spent a lot of time looking at this, figuring out what we could do and how we could do it, and then when we converted from the cents per gallon, we also took the diesel tax and we went to a 6% at the rack diesel tax. Now, according to what I 've been told, when we found the report, that equates to about 3.61%, 3.61 cents per percent. So they pay 18 -- I mean 17.5 cents and it would go to about 21 -- about 21 cents, a little bit, maybe 21.5 cents per gallon. So it's about a 3, 3.5 cents per gallon increase on diesel. There have been many questions about did we change any of the structure of how we assess or how dmv approaches mobile homes, off-road vehicles, you name it. None of that has changed. We have 21 exemptions. We're adding a 22nd exemption for diesel, for vehicles that are 10,000 pounds and less. So I think that I 've hit on all the high points. I just want to make sure because when you go on little sleep and drinking caffeine, sometimes you do miss something, but I do believe that pretty much states what we've done. We'll eliminate the crossover, we'll put -- in essence, when you consider the regional packages, we will put about probably 1.4 to $1.45 billion per year into transportation. And I would like just to restate the fact that the 0.3% that is done statewide totally goes to transportation. And for the first time, we have dedicated sources of funds for the intercity passenger rail, for mass transit, and for those modalities that are important to different parts of our commonwealth. We think that we spent the time that we should to try to come up with a comprehensive fix. There will be thuntion in here that people -- things in here that people don't like, the governor thinks he doesn't like. There are things that the House democrats might not like. Certainly things that the House republicans don't like. Things that the Senate doesn't like. But as my wife has often told me, when we first got married, said if we weren't well matched, might have been evenly matched. She said that compromise gives two people something that neither one truly wants, but in most cases, it provides what they really need. I would represent to you that this bill before us provides us what we really need and I 'll be glad to answer any questions that anyone has about any part of this bill. >> The gentleman from Fairfax, Mr. Albo.
Kirk Cox
Mr. Speaker, speaking to the bill please. >> Gentleman has the floor.
[Unknown]
My job here is to talk about the northern Virginia perspective and explain to you the northern Virginia package. First I want to tell you, how did we get here? Well, when I drive in the morning here, I go from springfield area to Richmond in the morning, and on 95, from Fredericksburg past springfield, about 45 miles, it is packed. In the morning, all you see is lights. Rows and rows and rows of lights of people going about 15 or 25 miles an hour. If you don't live where I live, you might find it hard to believe that for me to get to my office in Arlington, especially if I need to get to court, I can't be late, I have to allot an hour and a half to drive 12 miles. This is something that we live with every day. That's how we got here. The texas transportation institute did a study, they didn't have to tell me that we were number one because I live it every day. We are the most congested area in the entire united states. Not an award I ever wanted to have. How did we get here? I want to address some of the emails I 've been getting from people wondering why we need to do this, why can't we just spend money from other areas of government to build roads. Well, first of all, in 1986, was that when we did -- vivian? 1986, we set gas tax at 17.5 cents per gallon. It costs $25,000 to pave a mile of road in 1986. It now costs 80,000 and you're still getting 17.5 cents a gallon. You add to that that cars have dramatically better fuel efficiency, so people are not paying the same amount to drive the same distance and some cars don't even use gas at all. In fact, I think in one of the studies, it said that probably 10% of the cars on the roads within about ten years will be electric. Mathematics shows us that there is no money. So that means that our situation right now is so bad, a lot of people don't realize this, there is not one penny to put a stoplight in in the entire state of Virginia. There is not one penny to put a turn lane in. There is not one penny to put a little cut on the sidewalk so handicap people can get from one side of the street to the other. That is how bad it is. All we have is maintenance money. Because maintenance has drained construction by 2017, there will not be one penny to build any road that is not also federally funded. That's how bad it is. We have a choice today, we can do nothing, or we can do something. That's basically it. Now, I never choose "do nothing." so let's talk about doing something. There's two ways you can do it. You can transfer money from other areas of government and build roads, or you can raise new revenue. I want to transfer money. So for years, and especially this year, I 've been trying to figure out how to do it. The speaker put me on jlar, which has been very educational for me. Kind of boring sometimes too -- well, most times actually, but here's what I 've learned. You think of the general fund budget, remember non-general fund are the things you can't touch. That's people paying tuition for college and it sits in the non-general fund because it's designated to college. People pay fees for farms and things like that, it gets set aside. This is, I 'm talking about the discretionary budget. It's now only $17.7 billion. The reason is, because we have gotten through the worst recession since the great depression by cutting -- I 'm honored to be part of that team, I think it's a thing we needed to do, but if you look at a jlark report on state spending and I don't know if you can -- let me see if I can see this. This is a graph of general fund spending, general fund spending the last ten years. You can see it's flat. This is adjusted for population and inflation. This one is absolute numbers. If you look at these things, you will see that we are spending at less than 2007 levels despite the fact that population has increased, inflation has increased, and medicaid goes up 100% every ten years. And because we've made the tough choices on this House floor, we have been able to cut government and live within our means. But that means our pie is small, so let's talk about diverting money from one area of government to another to pay for roads. Of this pie, this $17 billion pie, 50% is education. Counties, cities, have a constitutional obligation, they can't get around it, they have to give a kid a fair education. If you cut education, they are going to raise real estate taxes. You're not going to want to do that. If you cut higher ed, we don't even have olympian to get in --- money to get in-state kids into slots in higher education, you're not going to cut that. So 50% is off the table. Medicaid is 25%. Medicaid is a joint federal-state program. We are at the minimum. The federal will not let us cut anything. You cannot touch the 25% medicaid. That's off the table. Public safety, the gentleman from Charlottesville and I have done a study to try to figure out whether this rumor that there are non-violent people in prison is true. There are no non-violent people in prison. I should never say no. There are almost no non-violent people in prison. It is near in possible to get a nilly second in pris -- millisecond in prison for possession of drugs or stealing something and when governor kaine tried to save money by cutting public safety, what he did was establish an early release and the gentleman from Charlottesville read us the his and that included drug dealers, child pornographers and a lot of other unsavory people you don't want in your neighborhood. So 50% education, 25% medicaid, 15% public safety. Guess what? We've got 10% we can look at, 10% of the budget we can look at to see if we want to build roads with it. Guess what that is? That's everything else the government does, everything else. 10%. And in that is your $950 million car tax repeal. So when I was looking for a billion dollars to solve transportation, I realized that there's only 750 million left and you can't find a billion when your pie is 750 million. It is mathematically impossible, and I tell my constituents that who write me. I don't know who's telling you this, it is mathematically impossible to find a billion dollars in the general fund. So I 've got one choice. I'm going to do something about it. I'm going to solve this problem. So here's what we came up with. A northern Virginia transportation package. For many of you, this is not new. This is all based on the Albo -May -Watts -Callahan speaker's bill from 2007. Our idea quas let us be free -- was let us be free to solve our problem. I'm not asking anyone outside northern Virginia to do anything, just let me solve my problem. Under the non-negotiable rule that 100% of the money stays here. That's fair, right? If I 'm going to solve my problem, I 'm not sending you the money. Let us do it. I have to tell you, spread thank yous around, that the gentlelady from Fairfax has been amazingly sharp on this issue. She knows everything. I didn't treat myself as the conferee on this, which by the way, I never want to do again, Mr. Speaker, as doing what dave Albo wanted to do. I kind of figure when you're appointed as conferee, you have responsibilities to represent people. But I was put there to represent northern Virginia and to rep my caucus. I had an open process. Vivian night as well have been a con -- might as well have been a confer conferee. Gentleman from Fairfax, Loudoun, others. We worked collaboratively together, it was an open process. We didn't want to do anything behind anybody's back. And the gentle lady from Fairfax is also my motivation. If this passes and the governor signs it, I will never for the rest of my life have to listen to her morning hour speech about transportation funding. [applause] that should lead us to 100% vote here. [laughter] okay. So we're almost done. Here's how it works. We create a pot, the pot is called the northern Virginia transportation fund. Into this pot we're going to put three funding sources. The three funding sources are a 0.7 cent sales tax, a 0.25% fee when you sell a home. So on a $500,000 home, that's $1250. And a 3% hotel. How is that money divided? Well, the first 30% gets sent back to the locality based on how much they paid. And of that money that the locality has to spend the money on transportation. The remaining 70 is picked from this fund that is -- or not a fund, but a list that was devised by the gentleman from fair tax's bill from two years, has vdot, ctb and northern Virginia transportation authority analyzed projects based upon congestion reduction, cost effectiveness, etcetera, and the nbta must pick a project from that list, so we don't have silly projects. We have projects that move people. Now, there are a couple of things I want to point out here for you northern Virginia people. Remember my nonnegotiable rule, absolute. This money will never be spent outside northern Virginia and it will never be spent on anything but transportation. When you look at the bill, you will see three places, lines 55 through 56, lines 96 through 97, and in lines 2660 which guarantee that the money stays in northern Virginia and is never spent on anything that's not transportation-related. The only thing new in this bill is what I call the kill switch. It's on line 2660. That law says if any of the money is ever spent outside northern Virginia, and this also included Hampton roads in the kill switch, outside Hampton roads and northern Virginia, and ever spent on anything that's not transportation, the revenue sources die. Why is that important? The budget overrides everything, so the way you get really stabbed in the back around here is you have the budget guys say, notwithstanding -- yeah, what? Notwithstanding -- ah! Notwithstanding -- [laughter]
[Unknown]
Yes. Notwithstanding law x --
[Unknown]
Mr. Speaker, I have an amendment.
[Unknown]
Oh, what we do is, if the money is ever spent outside northern Virginia, hrd, ever spent on don't Hampton roads, ever spent on nontransportation, on December 31st, the revenue source dies, so when you get here in January, there's nothing that exists. It should be 100% fool proof. Ladies and gentlemen, why do we hate congress? Because they have their Head in the sand and they pretend problems don't exist and when they take their Head out of the sand, they don't want to compromise. They want everything 100% their way and nothing gets done. Including, they can't even pass a budget for four years. I will not behave like congress. I want to get the problem solved, and I hope that you will join me in doing what needs to be done and solve the problem. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. [applause] >> The gentleman from Roanoke city, Mr. Ware.
Kirk Cox
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Speak to the bill. >> Gentleman has the floor.
[Unknown]
And I promise I won't be as long as my colleague from northern Virginia. I've always been taught practicing law, Mr. Speaker, judges say short is always best. But let me first of all say some things. This is very serious matter and I know that oftentimes I make light of things to sort of get the nervousness and -- but it's certainly not to say that it's serious. I have to applaud several people, and I don't want this fact to get lost in the debate. Had it not been for the gentlelady, Delegate Dance, Delegate Tyler, and Delegate Torian and myself, we took some ridicule and we took some of the eye-blinking and Head -nodding because we had enough courage to initially start up, Mr. Speaker, and move this bill forward. And I don't want anybody to think that I benefited from it by being a conferee, which by the way, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate you for appointing me as a conferee, but don't do it again, please, sir. [laughter] but these three people, we jointly together discussed it and we thought not just about our particular areas, but we thought about what the commonwealth needed, and so I have to acknowledge them and I have to acknowledge that, you know, if you're going to be a leader down here, sometimes you got to stand up against all of the obvious odds and just do what's right. And a compromise, everybody in here today is exactly feeling the way you ought to feel. Painful. Because nobody's getting exactly everything they want nor should you get everything you want. And -- but it's not about you individually. It's about the state. It's about the transportation needs, and I feel comfortable today, I don't get as much as northern Virginia, I don't get as much as tidewater, but I get a train. [laughter] and I don't say that lightly because I understand getting toes those rails down there will eventually help my economic development through the intermodal and over in the gentleman's district, Delegate Yost and Delegate Habeeb, we will benefit. Maybe not as quickly always the rest of the state and the region. I can tell you it wasn't comfortable for me to be the only democratic conferee, but also say to you that I was treated with respect and I was listened to and I can tell you as a consequence, the four other confearees were mindful that my side did not want to take or reduce general fund spending for transportation. And I frame the issue this way. They didn't want to raise taxes. So you got no general fund versus raise no taxes. And guess what, ladies and gentlemen? For the first time, it make me feel good every too many I heard one of them say -- every time I heard one of them say we're going to raise the sales tax because I 've been here for ten years, and for ten years, their position was we can fund transportation without raising taxes. And I didn't never think that was the case, and by the way, what difference does it make at this point? Because we're in dire straits, whether it's a gas tax or a sales tax. What we need is the revenue. You need the revenue. Is it a perfect bill? Absolutely not and I would agree with everything both of my colleagues said before, as I said in my caucus, because vivian Watts was in the room every time we talked about transportation. It was like I had a second democrat in the room with me when I got to talking because they quoted vivian, they quoted her numbers. What I 'm simply saying to you is this. There are times in life that you have to look beyond yourself and look at the whole, and that's what governing is. That's why you're down here. Yes, you're here to protect your individual piece of the pie, but the puzzle doesn't work until you put it all together and I know that some of my close friends have some pain about raising taxes. Some of my good friends have some pain about general fund use, but I would say to you, a true compromise is exactly what this bill is. It's not the best, it's not the worst, and everybody feels some pain. I intend to support it, not because I was a conferee, because most of you all mo me. I March to my own beat and my own drummer. Gets me in trouble often, but one thing I can do every morning when I cake up is look myself -- wake up is look myself in the mirror and say I did the very best I could. I support this bill and I hope the rest of you all will too. [applause]
Kirk Cox
The gentleman from Prince William, Mr. Marshall.
[Unknown]
Speaking to the measure, Mr. Speaker. >> Gentleman has the floor. >> Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, we're always told that we haven't changed anything significantly since 1986, and I guess in a certain sense, that is correct. Well, if that's correct, why is it that we are adopting the tactics of the former speaker of the House of representatives who said you had to pass the law in order to read it? Because when you look at the internet at 2313, you do not see a copy of the conference report. We picked up a copy of the conference report last night. The senators picked up a copy of the conference report last night. But our citizens could not get a copy of the conference report. They can't see it online. We're doing to our people what we criticized liberal democrats for doing to the nation a couple years ago. So what have we learned? I don't know. Oh, now, if you're a lobbyist in northern Virginia who favors this bill, you got a copy. But not if you're a citizen. So last night, my wife and I read this bill and my son read part of it, and I tried to send a copy of this that was on the internal server here, and my son is very smart about computers couldn't figure out a way to send it or to copy it, so we're all -- all the citizens are flying blind, but if you're a lobbyist, you're fine. Mr. Speaker, I 'm not going to read the section on Page 4, lines 79 through 88, but we read this, I think about six times last night. This is unintelligible legalese. I couldn't figure out what it means, and I challenge anybody here to do that, but that's not my only objection. We're told that by 2018, we will run out of construction funds. It's very cute. If you look at the vdot website, look at the definition of construction and look at the definition of maintenance. You will find that they're interchangeable. For example, in about 2004, when a totally new bridge was built in my district on route 28, all brand-new, it was designated maintenance. No wonder we're running out of construction funds, we now call it maintenance. We're not constructing new roads here, we're not constructing new primary roads or interstates, but we still say we have this other problem. We do have congestion problems, I do not deny that. Now, have we tried all the tools in the toolbox? Well, I really don't think so. The gentleman from Suffolk was the patron of a constitutional amendment, which I initiated a number of years ago, and which our current governor borrowed from me in 2005 to run and I encouraged him to do that, that was killed in the Senate. That was killed in the Senate. So when the gentleman from Fairfax suggests there are brakes on shifting of money, that's not correct, because the appropriations bill overrides everything. He used a phrase, notwithstanding any other provision of law. That notwithstanding as veto on any other provision of law that we say you can't shift the money. You can shift the money. The money will be shifted. When I used to be carrying this, and I actually got it to the floor of the Senate a couple times, I even tried to persuade the tax increasers over there, look, I said to the Senator, if you ef want to raise -- and I didn't like making this argument, but it was true. If you ever want to raise taxes for transportation, you got to convince the public you're not going to shift it. That still didn't get his vote. They killed it just like they did a couple days ago. Now, let's look at some of the things that we are doing here. What kind of taxes are raised? State sales taxes, regional sales taxes, vehicle and tangible personal property taxes. Vending machine taxes, heavy equipment taxes, recordation taxes on commercial, industrial, and residential real property, hotel tax, hybrid vehicle tax and diesel fuel tax. Why, Mr. Speaker, I would have thought this come from democrats? No, this came from republicans. This is interesting. What other tools have we not used? Well, I offered an amendment here to designate one cent of every dollar spent in every program here, not associated with transportation. You all passed it by, didn't even want to hear about it. What we're telling the public is no belt-tightening in Richmond. We're going to reach into your pocket further and deeper because we don't want to sacrifice, but we'll make you sacrifice more. The public will not believe that an agency can't find one cent out of a dollar. That's going to be a very hard sell. Now, what else did we do here, Mr. Speaker? We rejected an effort to change about an 80-year-old configuration of the commonwealth transportation board, and I commend the gentleman from Fairfax, Delegate rus for doing that. We lost 49 to 51. That means all this additional money, when it is allocated according to a formula that we're assuring the rural people we will not change in order to get your votes for this, will be distributed according to a population estimate that's about 70 or 80 years old. That does not reflect the realities of transportation right now. We did not use that tool, we didn't try that tool. That tool was rejected. Now, what else are we doing? If you go to the vdot website and look at the discussion on expanding route 460, you will find that it's going to cost $1.4 billion for a $55 million toll road. You will find that it will create 4,000 construction jobs. What you won't find, Mr. Speaker, is one sentence, one word, or a phrase indicating how many vehicles it will move. Nothing. Nada, niet, it's not there. Is this a political road? I don't know. But it's not a road that deals with congestion. We additionally added 554 million for a road down in southwest Virginia, route 58. That is a road that carries 7900 vehicles a day. We have roads in northern Virginia which carry 120,000 vehicles a day. Where are our sense of priorities? Now, we're not going to change the size of the construction districts, we're not going to change the allocation of the construction districts. We're not going to find economies anywhere, and republicans want to get the votes of their base in November. Mr. Speaker, I don't think that's going to happen. I think we haven't tried hard enough or played hard-ball long enough or been Wise enough with the money that the people have given us. I urge a no vote. Thank you very much. The gentleman from Scott, Mr. Kilgore.
Kirk Cox
Mr. Speaker, speak to the bill. >> Gentleman has the floor.
[Unknown]
Plps, ladies and -- >> Mr. Speaker, ladies and gentlemen of the House, with the gentleman from Fairfax, Delegate al bo, we came here 20 years ago and for 20 years we've been talking about transportation and we have done some around the edges on transportation. Ladies and gentlemen, it's time we do something. I think most of you know that I 'm a pretty conservative individual when it comes to spending money, and my votes here on the floor would say that. But ladies and gentlemen, as the gentleman from Fairfax said earlier, we are now at -- we're still at '07 levels on general fund. We have cut and the chairman Putney, kirk Cox, others who are on the appropriation committee have cut and cut and cut. We used to fund non-state agencies when I first came here. We don't do that anymore because that was something that we decided was not the right thing to do. But ladies and gentlemen, sometimes you have to -- you have to step up to the plate. Do I like everything that's in this bill? No, I don't. And I agree with the gentleman from Roanoke. You know, if I was doing the perfect bill, I wouldn't do this, but this is what's before us, ladies and gentlemen. As a matter of fact, you heard the gentleman from Prince William who's totally against the bill. What did he just tell you? How was he going to get the money to fund roads in northern Virginia ? He was going to get them from me. He was going to get them from my friends in the rural area, get them from the Shenandoah valley by changing the transportation formula, by changing the membership on the ctb board. That's how he was going to get them. Here's a chance that we in rural Virginia can help ourselves to protect ourselves for the next ten years, by giving northern Virginia, by giving tidewater the ability to help themselves. Ladies and gentlemen, I 've said on this floor time and time again that we all are elected to serve from our each individual districts, and we protect that individual district, but when we come here, sometimes we got to think about the entire commonwealth. We are a commonwealth, ladies and gentlemen. If those economic engines, if my coal trains can't get to the ports, if we can't get workers to work at the ports, if the technology sector is not running well up in northern Virginia, then we have no money, we do not have the necessary money for schools. We do not have the necessary money for roads. If you look at this plan, ladies and gentlemen, if you're from the rural parts of the state, if you're from a part of the state that's not northern Virginia or Hampton roads, you actually pay less under this plan. You will actually pay less with the gas tax going off and the 0.3 cents of the sales tax. Now, ladies and gentlemen, you know, there's a lot to be said here, but -- and I won't sugar-coat it, this is a tough vote, but when it comes down to it, we have an opportunity, an opportunity that has gotten away from us for 20 years, and with this governor, with this House of delegates appropriations committee, we've done what we could do over the last three years to try to fund transportation. We've not been able to do it. This is a way forward that we can agree on, you know, like I said, I probably wouldn't agree on everything, but I 'm going to vote yes. I ask my -- I ask those in the rural areas, I ask those in the suburban areas to look at this. This is a way that we can go forward, this is a way that we can let northern Virginia, we can let Hampton roads help themself and we can help this commonwealth move forward. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Kirk Cox
Gentleman from Chesapeake, Mr. Spruill.
Lionell Spruill
Mr. Speaker, speak to the bill. >> Gentleman has the floor.
[Unknown]
Mr. Speaker, members of the House, somebody got my -- bear with me. Mr. Speaker, members of the House, House bill 2313 is not all what we want. We do have problems in Hampton roads. Traffic, potholes. We have problems because they asked us to deal with the toll problem that we have in the downtown and midtown tunnel. House bill 2313 came about, and they say it's not all what we want, but somehow, it can be fixed and worked out. Then we had some from the other side says to us, we can't work it out, but asked us to hold off, Mr. Speaker, on both 2313 until we can get things worked out on medicare, medicaid expansion. And we did that. Then, Mr. Speaker, we had a member from the Senate, the other side -- I apologize -- to talk to us this morning and said that we think we worked out the best deal that can release you on holding out because we think that we have this problem worked out with both sides of the aisle. Then the gentleman went on to give Delegate steve Landes, Delegate kirk Cox, Delegate Jones credit, and knowing me and my style, Mr. Speaker, I asked a question to that gentleman, do you trust those three? That's me. And he said, Delegate Spruill, yes, I truly believe that they have done a real great job, a great job of putting this together. Then I said to the group that listen to me sometimes on the side of the aisle, I said I need to talk with someone. Then, Mr. Speaker, someone said to me, do you really trust your friend, chris Jones ? Go and talk to him. I have known chris for a long time, and we don't always agree and I tell chris, you can't beat me in Chesapeake, and he says you can't beat me in Suffolk, and we are friends. And I said, explain to me, first of all, about 2313 because you and those three, the two of you all, you are together on this and I know what the package said and layout says, but tell me, chris, explain to me that I can understand, that in order for me to change my vote. He did that. I said, explain to me about the medicare expansion that some said we're going to hold out because of this. He did that. The gentleman from the other side of the Hall came to us this morning and he explained that he truly believed this is the best package that we could get. And then a question was asked of me, what are you getting out of this for Chesapeake ? I went back to chris Jones, and I went back to -- he called a member of the staff and I say, Delegate Jones, I have a concern about the high-rise bridge in Chesapeake. He says, Mr. Spruill, it's in there, I 'm going to take care of it for you. So if we could have something done for transportation, if they are telling the truth and I truly trust chris and I like kirk Cox and steve Landes, but I trust chris -- [laughter] -- if they are telling the truth concerning what they worked out on the other bill, and I truly believe that they have done a great job because the Senator from the other end of the Hall said that they are a great team, Mr. Speaker, they have done a great job and I toil and turn because of my trust in my friend chris Jones. Those who that I think are probably on this side of the aisle, I 'm asking you all to trust chris Jones and those groups. I will support this bill. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. >> The gentleman from Loudoun, Mr. Greason. >> Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Speaking to the bill. >> Gentleman has the floor.
[Unknown]
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, ladies and gentlemen of the House, you've heard a lot today, you've heard a lot of details, you've heard a lot of numbers. When I think about this vote that we're about to take, I think about the very short four years that I 've been here and what I thought I was going to do when I got here. And what I thought I was going to do was make sure that I never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever raise taxes. Because there are a few people back home who sent me here to do that. But as I think about where we are today and the 27 years we've been working on this problem, I think to myself, I was also sent here to solve problems and the problems that we solve aren't always the problems we want to solve. We are put in positions to solve them, and my perspective on this bill really is not about the numbers. It's not about the details, although they are important. It's about one thing that we've been working on here in Virginia for many, many years, and that is to become the best state in the country to do business, and we achieved that two years ago. We were the number one state in the country to do business. We defeated texas and took that mantle away from them. This year, we are number three, and the sole reason we are the number third state in the country to do business is because of our lack of transportation infrastructure. If we do not pass this bill, I am fearful that two years from now, we will go from ranked third to ranked fifth and then fifth to seventh, seventh to ninth. All of a sudden, I 'll have been here, if I get re-elected, for ten years and we will have gone from first in the country to out of the top ten. Now, what happens when businesses leave Virginia ? We have less money for transportation, less money for education, public safety, medicaid expansion, forget it. We're not going to have any money for that. We have to continue to think about how we're going to become the best state in the country to do business, and addressing our transportation infrastructure needs today, not tomorrow, not five years from now, but today is what we have to do to solve this problem. And I will be voting for this bill when we get the chance. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Kirk Cox
Gentleman from Portsmouth, Mr. James.
[Unknown]
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Speaking to the motion -- speaking to the bill, sir. >> Gentleman has the floor. >> Good afternoon. Most of you, since we had the pop-up this morning, I can say most of you all know I 'm in economic development, so this is an important bill. It's been a tough decision that I remember when I ran two years ago for the first time. I had never held elected office, and everyone in Hampton roads said, you need to do something about transportation. If you talk to your economic development or your business community, they will tell you, transportation is on their minds. If they can't get their product there, if they can't get their people from one place to their location, and this isn't a scare tactic because I don't believe in that -- their management team will look at other options. We need to pass a transportation bill. Thank you, chris, for your comments earlier. I think that one of my favorite sayings was I like to collect quotes, one of them was, you know, you need to -- instead of finding fault, you need to find remedies, and I think we have one here. It May not be perfect. That's probably going to be everybody's suggestion, but it is something to bill our base on because we can't wait another 25 years. Companies are getting global, we're competing around the world, and folks are saying, yeah, we're going to have to make some investments. But I like certain elements of this bill. It allow regions, two regions where the money is collected to spend it there, and if you look at the incremental growth that we will get when we pass this plan, I think it will more than return a positive return on investment for us. So I would encourage you. I know it's a tough bill, it's a tough decision, but all of us came here to make tough decisions, and I would encourage you to not only think of your district, but think beyond your district because I think this bill, not only helps our district, but it helps the commonwealth of Virginia and with that, Mr. Speaker, I would hope that everyone would endorse this bill. Thank you.
Kirk Cox
The gentlewoman from Fairfax, Ms. Watts, briefly. [laughter]
Kirk Cox
Speaking to the bill, Mr. Speaker. >> The gentlewoman has the floor.
[Unknown]
There's a part of me that would love to just say amen. There have been so many -- there have been so many excellent statements made in this floor debate and I am just -- I can't tell you how full my heart is that on this basis, because I am me, I 'm a numbers person, and the charming gentleman from Suffolk, from Fairfax, from Roanoke city, to have them actually want to spend time with me in the night and talk about numbers, talking about numbers, that's the way to get to my heart. It was a thrill! [laughter] and the bottom line of all of that, as we have heard in various ways from various members, this is hard governance. There is no easy answer. In part because of the diversity of the commonwealth. In part because it's not just this moment in time, either for our constituents or for this moment in economic time, but it's also what we owe to the future, and investing in the future. I'm now going to go on a little bit, Mr. Speaker, to just reminisce on how -- to reminisce on how I got here. You know, when I came out of college, there weren't many opportunities for women and somehow I wanted very much to get involved in education and all those good things on family services and all that stuff that makes a difference in the families of the commonwealth. In other words, I was just like many, many, many of your constituents. But at some point, I decided that the best way I could help is to begin to understand the budget locally. [captioning will resume shortly]
[Unknown]
It's been growing our economy. And this is why I 'm particularly thrilled with what I was hearing on the floor, and pretty satisfied with the package before us. That is because it recognizes as we just heard from the gentleman from gates city, it recognizes how we are all in it together to help eve other -- help each other, to the other comments we have heard, that if we don't address the urban crescent needs, we will choke our economy just as we are choked in traffic. So the fact that we have these components -- and I listen to everybody, and even the gentleman from Prince William, I agreed with him that those lines -- excuse me, line 79 through 88, I had better wording for that, and I would be happy to discuss with you exactly what -- what it means and why it's there. But in that complexity, we are about to, I hope, pass a very important city forward -- step forward, because it deals with the economic engines of our state, Hampton roads and northern Virginia, we've all got a lot of home-kooging work to do to make sure our regional problems are properly addressed to make sure that the economy and the congestion are addressed, but meanwhile, we have raised real money that goes into the revenue stream that we have seen zero from for now going on four years, and would gone on and on and on having no money from the federal government by 2017. I also heard, maybe I hope it wasn't a slip of the tongue that, yeah, we will be back here ten years from now. I heard the ten. Because it's not something that you can just do as the economy changes, we'll be back here and we'll also be back here because approximately $400 million of new money going into construction, while a 50% increase of the pathetic, I say it, 700 million we currently have, it is not enough to meet all of the needs throughout the commonwealth, whether it is sight distances on roads that were paved but never improved and have taken lives, whether it's a shoulder that hasn't been a pro ratly wide bd -- appropriately widened that took the life of a football buddy of my sob's. -- my son's. We've got much to do throughout the commonwealth for our people. So let me finish with this. When I first came here, boy, I didn't think I 'd ever be here, and I 'm sitting here thinking, what am I doing? These are seats that have been occupied by some of our founding fathers! When we think about our community college system, or our unified poor, or a number of other tough decisions that have been made, they have been made by people who are willing to embrace the future. I did not intend to make this my life work, but I hope in not too many minutes I have tried to convey how there is a network that holds us all together, and this infrastructure that we are about to address is a critical part of it. I want to thank everyone who has opened the door to me. You have done extremely, extremely good work. I hope that my continuing to invest as each and every one of you invest your strength in the continued health of our commonwealth will in fact bring us forward.
Kirk Cox
The gentleman from Rockbridge, Mr. Cline. [applause] >> Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Speaking to the bill. >> Gentleman has the floor.
[Unknown]
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Ladies and gentlemen of the House, I rise with some frustration, because as I 've been listening to my colleagues speak about the transportation challenges facing the commonwealth, and there are significant challenges facing the commonwealth, I hear my colleagues say we've got to do something, we've got to do something. Well, this bill does something, but I will tell you that it is the wrong thing when it comes to Virginia 's economic success, and to my friend from Loudoun, who was concerned about our rankings, see what happens when we raise just about every tax dealing with transportation and then some others that don't deal with transportation, and see what happens to our business rgings, and our -- rankings and our business reputation. I say to the ladies and gentlemen of the House, I, too, want to find the right solution for transportation, and I was here in 2004 with my friend when taxes were raised, and I was here in '05 and '06 when the surpluses went above and beyond. I was here in '07 when we did 3202. I was here in '11 when we did the bonding, and I 'm here today to commit that if we a prove this from the perspective of the governor -- approach this from the perspective of the governor and the speaker when they announced 44 days ago that they wanted to find a transportation solution, we can find it, and it can be the right one for Virginia. The speaker and the governor started this process from a revenue-neutral standpoint, or close to it. As close as they could get, slightly more than 24 million in the first year. But that was an important prib to start from. -- an important principle to start from. The idea that we are not going to reach into the pockets of our constituents during one of the most fragile economic recessions that we've seen and ask them to pay more. So this revenue-neutral position was an important element of any potential solution. Swapping out the gas tax for more stable source of revenue, that's a good principle to start from, and that's what they did. Treating transportation as the core function of government that it is. That's an important principle to start from. Funding it from the general fund revenues, that's an possible principle to start from. And putting in place a lock box so that any new revenues from a more stable source of revenue go to transportation and not get spread across every other program and purpose in the budget. So the governor and the speaker started from the right place, and as is the case when the bill that columns out of this body gets paired up with the bill that comes out of the other body, you get a different product. And unfortunately it is a product that is not right for Virginia. It raises taxes, it is no longer revenue-neutral, and I 'm sorry to say, Mr. Speaker, that the basic premise of your bill has been abandoned and replaced with a laundry list of taxes. A higher sales tax, and without the marketplace equity act, even higher. A higher car tax for sales of automobiles. The gas tax replaced with a percentage hidden from the consumer at the rack, and fluctuating over time with a floor in place so that if gas prices fall to a certain point, the rate goes up. Higher diesel tax. The lock box is gone. My friend from Fairfax talks about letting localities take care of themselves. I don't have a problem with that, because I think that in areas like his, they have different challenges, and they want to provide their solutions, I think that should be up to them. But this bill fills transportation coffers at a Price, and it fills our transportation budget at the cost of our family, constituents, families, budgets budgets. Right now up in Washington they are dealing with a sequester. Virginia is uniquely positioned to be harmed as a result of this sequester. Many of my friends in northern Virginia and in tidewater are going to be particularly hard hit. When you combine the impact of that sequester with the impact of these tax increases, you are going to do serious damage to the economic health of this commonwealth. We can still find a solution. We can still go back to the principles that the speaker and the governor spoke to 44 days ago if we reject this conference report, we send a message to our conferrees and to the conferrees down the Hall that we need to produce a solution that is in keeping with the original proposal of revenue neutrality that was put forward by our governor, and we can achieve a truly -- a solution that is truly well suited to the commonwealth of Virginia that is right for Virginia 's transportation needs. I ask you to vote no.
Kirk Cox
The gentleman from Frederick, miss sher wad wood.
Kirk Cox
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, speaking to the bill. >> Gentlewoman has the floor.
[Unknown]
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is not very often I get up on the floor and talk at length, but there are a few things I would like to say today with regard to this bill. I did not vote for this bill originally. I was a "no" vote. And I 'm not one that's ever going to get an award for popping up and talking unless there's something I really have to say. So today I would like to explain that -- and I will give some history and sol background. When I was asked to serve on this conference committee, I was very up front that I wasn't sure I was going to be able to sign this report. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to vote for the final package, compromise. However, I was given some really wonderful conferrees, quite frankly, we seem to all have the same goal. And the goal for the statewide piece was to make the tax increases palatable as possible. And I know my good friend from Roanoke city and my good friend from Henrico were sharing that with me all along the way. But we also had in the back of our minds that there is a major problem here in the commonwealth. We do have a struggle and a challenge with transportation. It's not just in the urban areas, it's in the rural area as well, when there's not enough money for maintenance, when our maintenance fund is really lacking. When we hear that swish of money perhaps going to the more urban areas, as we see legislation on the floor to change the makeup of the commonwealth transportation board, when we have some hints of the formula being changed down the road to meet those needs. And quite frankly, as with others, for twenty years I 've been hearing a lot of speeches on the floor and within caucus about our challenges in our urban areas. And so this particular compromise might not be everything that I wanted. I do believe the statewide piece is one that will benefit our rural areas as well, but I do think that this is something more than just one region or the other. It is truly about the economic engine of the commonwealth, and it is our tile now to put forward this compromise to make sure that that engine keeps running. And I will tell you, speaking of engines, I have nothing in this plan, I have no train and I have no road. But I do hope that I have a maintenance fund that is going to serve the more rural areas of this commonwealth and serve it well. So I hope you will all join me in supporting this conference report. Thank you. [applause]
[Unknown]
Gentleman from Charlottesville, Mr. Toscano. >> Thank you, Mr. Speaker, speaking to the bill. >> Gentleman has the floor. >> Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, ladies and gentlemen of the House, I think this might be the most important vote that I have taken during the time I 've been here. Admittedly I haven't been here this it long, but I think this it might be the most important vote. And as I thought about this bill over the last two weeks, I thought about some of the reasons why I came here in the first place, and, you know, I think there are a lot of people out there pretty cynical about politics. You've heard they will. You have many constituents who write you all the time. Some of them are very nice and say we really want to get things done, and they just honestly disagree with you. Others are so wedded to some abstract sense of political purity that they say to you that unless you do it my way, I 'll throw you out in a new York minute. I'm afraid there's too many of those out there, and I 'm afraid if we let them get ahold of things we will just be in the dfl c soup -- dc soup, just like they are up above the potomac. This kind of attitude breeds gridlock and inaction action. Our democracy, frankly, can't operate that way. I subscribe to the view by the gentleman from Fairfax when he said, you know, I want to get something done. And I think a lot of us in this chamber really want to get something done. So here's our chance on transportation. Early in this session I talked about various principles. I thought were important in a final transportation plan. And I thought about them again in trying to think through whether I could come to support this plan. Principle number within -- one. We had to have number revenue, otherwise we were just kicking the can down the road. Moving things around. Celebrating a victory that was hollow. There's enough revenue in this plan. At least in the short term. And it's a substantial step forward. Over a billion dollars a year, if you consider not just the statewide piece, but the regional pieces as well. We talked a lot about the importance of having this plan funded with real money, not fan toll money based -- phantom money based on something that May or May not occur in Washington dc. This plan does that. It does include the provisions for marketplace equity, money coming in to he fund the plan, if congress does it, but it has a really great trigger that will allow those monies to be replaced if for some reason congress doesn't do what a lot of people in this room hope and believe they will do, and that is pass that marketplace equity act. It includes some provisions for diverting some of that sales tax revenue that comes in for education. That's a nice little nugget that's attractive to me in this plan. Principle three. General fund. As you know, a lot of us on this side are very concerned with the diversion of the general fund, how many tiles did you hear us talk about that. This bill was a little troubling in that regard, but, you know, diversion is not as great as it was in the governor's plan. And the designations in the marketplace equity that go to education make it a little more palatable. I'm not sure I will ever support that concept, but in order to get a compromise that is worth embracing. Principle four, that this bill would not just be about solving the maintain nabs short -- maintenance shortfall, which we've talked a lot about over the last few years. And this solves the maintenance shortfall, at least in the short-term. But it would also be about raising money for construction, rail, and transit. One of the really important things about this, and one that should be very, very attractive to people from Norfolk, Hampton roads, Newport News, is that for the first time, we have a dedicated source of revenue for inner city passenger rail. And I can say to the gentleman from Roanoke and the other gentleman from Roanoke, you May not have a train yet, but you will like that train when it shows up in your town. Finally, not finally, fifth, we wanted the money right now to get that money in the pipeline, to prime the economic pump. I think there's, what, for every billion dollars in construction, it's how many thousand jobs, 35,000 jobs? This is a jobs bill. And if money columns in right now -- comes in right now, it helps a great deal. And sixth, the flexibility given to the various regions to raise the money in their region and keep it there for their own projects. The infamous northern Virginia and Hall ton roads packages -- Hampton roads packages. That is very, very significant for those parts of the commonwealth. The gentleman from Fairfax said another thing that I picked up on this morning. And then he said let me solve my problem. That's what those packages help him do. But beyond that, it helps us solve our problem, because, what, 34 krebts of every -- cents of every dollar raised in the sales tax comes from northern Virginia, and with the expansion of the ports in Hampton roads, the importance of being able to invest in a transportation infrastructure in Hampton roads so that our port can be the thing it will be, to bring economic activity to the commonwealth, these are really important things not just for those regions, but for the commonwealth as a whole. Are there things that I don't like about the package? Sure. I don't like reducing the gas tax. I don't like increasing the sales tax that much. You know, I don't like the hybrid tax. There are things that I don't like about this. But I 'm willing to support it because I do think that even though it doesn't solve every problem, it solves a lot of problems. And I do think that this is our last shot for some time, and it's our best shot for the near term. It's not the solution for the generation, but it is a city forward -- a step forward. It is our shot that our constituents want us to take. Mr. Speaker, ladies and gentlemen of the House, there are many fingerprints on this bill. We've heard all the folks' names, gentlewoman from Fairfax, all of various people worked on the northern Virginia package over the years, the conferrees, a lot of peel involved in this bill. -- a lot of people involved in this bill. But let me say to you, this is no longer the governor's bill. This is no longer the speaker's bill. With this vote -- [laughter]
[Unknown]
With all due respect. [laughter]
[Unknown]
With this vote, ladies and gentlemen, this is now our bill. It rises and falls with us here now today. I hope you will pass the bill. [applause]
Kirk Cox
Gentleman from Suffolk, Mr. Jones.
[Unknown]
Speaking to the bill, Mr. Speaker.
Kirk Cox
Gentleman from has the floor.
[Unknown]
I have intently listened to everyone who has spoken this morning. I have, like the other conferrees to the last week and a half, taken the a prove that -- approach that anyone should do when they are given a task as mentioned earlier to represent their constituents, but when you were chosen to be a confer, member -- conference member, you listen be to your caucus and listen to the voices of the commonwealth. This is my 16th session, and I deeply respect this body, and what we're about. We've had some times in the last 12 years where we haven't always been on the same Page. For sol reason I have been in the middle of most of the tough battles that occurred during that time, I don't know why. But I 've always said that God puts you where you should be for a reason. We've had had to go through the tough budget cuts in 2002, 2004. I was here in the heyday when I got 98, 99, 2000 we had 9, 10, 11% growth in our budget. And we made sol decisions -- some decisions we probably shouldn't have made, because we hadn't done things for many a year. 3202 in 2006, and then another round of budget cuts in 2008, 2009. My first year as a conferree on the bubblingette -- budget, I never done k-12, but chairman said you and Delegate Cox do k-12. We had to cut education. And I think that was probably the first time in recent memory that was done, because we had to close our budget gap. So during the last week during my lack of sleepy spent time like vivian looking at numbers. We have cut about 7, 7 billion dollars in the last six years in the aggregate out of our budget. We are 1% lower than what we were 10 years ago based on population and inflation. We have reformed vrs. We have reformed higher ed. This session we are a tempting to do more -- attempting to do more of the same to k-12. We heard what you said on the other side about you didn't want to do this to the general fund. That was a critical component to what we felt, because we thought that transportation was and is a core function of government. We want to go from a half percent to three quarters of a percent. We didn't go all the way there. Like the gentleman from Charlottesville said, this is about compromise. What we did do in the process, listening to the gentleman from Fairfax, Delegate Plum, we decided to take the 1 and 1/8%, which was added in 2004, and make it 1 and 1/4% for education to earmark it. Because this is a process that you go through to reef a compromise. -- reach a compromise. The general fund piece was something that is right at $200 million. It grows over time with the sales tax and the tax at the rack. And there's nothing hidden about that. I have stated what it equates to today. I have no problem stating what I have done in this body. We all were sent here to do our best to try to fix problems as we see it. And I certainly respect those who will not support this bill for the reasons that they truly believe representing their constituents. One thing I have found in my 12 years on appropriations is that you make and take some of the toughest votes there is when it comes to the operation of government. Delegate Landes and myself serve on the higher ed subcommittee conference report, and we've met six or seven hours, steve, for the last probably three days, working on that area. There's nothing -- there are no niceities in that request, they are all needs that we have, and we are trying to meet. I have always approached my job on appropriations with the approach that I do at hole. I sign the front of the check, not the back of the check. I work on a net profit of less than 3% of my business, and no one sends me money unless I am able to pay my employees and earn a living that way. And I under stab what we're saying about what can happen -- I understand what we're saying about what can happen with an increase in this or that, but as we passed out the other day I think its he $1535 cost of the average virginian in the year the time they waste and sit in traffic, Hall ton roads, it's 750 to 780 a year. And there's a thing called quality of life. When you're spending three hours a day in a car, as opposed to being an extra two hours with your family, it does make a difference. Ladies and gentlemen, when you are called on to make a tough decision that sometimes might go against what you really want to do, you are not asked to take an easy vote, you are asked to take the vote that's going to make the difference. For too long we have collectively tried to say, well, if you just saw it my way, and as the gentleman from Charlottesville just said, this is truly our opportunity for our moment of truth. This is what I would like to say where the rhetoric meets reality. What I would ask you to do is to support the conference report before you and I truly want to thank each and every one of you who have come by my office at 5:30 in the morning, 9:00 at night, on the weekends, to share with me your concerns. We have tried to listen be to you, we have tried to reflect in this report what we think will help all virginians, and I would ask that you would vote to accept the report.
[Unknown]
Gentleman from Henrico, Mr. Farrell. >> Mr. Speaker, I have a motion. >> Gentleman May state it. >> I move the pending question. >> Gentleman from Henrico, Mr. Farrell moves the pending question. As many favor that motion say aye. Opposed no. >> Pending question is called for. Pending question is on the is he ans -- acceptance of the conference report. Shall the conference report be agreed to. The clerk will close the roll.
[Unknown]
Ayes 60; no's 40.