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Chris

When you vote GOP, you get what you pay for.

Last time I check, the Democratic Governor signed the bill. He certainly was not forced to do so.

A Voter

Good point Anon,

I guess those mean Republicans (and all the Dems who voted for the budget as well) must have bullied the gullible Governor Kaine into approval of the budget, and all the related spending bills. He probably didn't even realize what he was signing at the time, right?

Sullygirl

Finally... a practical suggestion to solve the tall grass problem AND generate some funds!
:)

GOPHokie

That is an awesome plan.
Great outside the box thinking NHFB.

Albo Must Go

Has anyone talked to Dave Albo about this?

Maybe he could propose a special grass cutting fee for Northern Virginia? He could add it on to something logically connected to transportation and grass cutting like monthly sewer bills.

JMU Duke

A Voter,

Do you think he was just in awe of how much George Bush has cut the National Debt in his term? That would distract me.

Seriously though, Republicans would have ripped Kaine's head off for refusing to sign that bill, and the fact is that the tight-assed Groverites still rule the roost in Richmond, and this is what we get for it. Democrats have for so long rolled over and died when someone called them pro-tax, instead of explaining that taxes pay for things, and that cutting them isn't a cure-all all the time. A Voter's flawed economics in the last thread on this topic were an example of such things. Tax cuts do at times raise tax revenue, but when you cut taxes and increase spending (as Republicans have) you can't pay for all the things that you need. Unfortunately here in Virginia, where we need a balanced budget, that means literally not getting things you need. But don't worry, we'll use the surplus. Or borrow it. Idiots.

Geoff

How about instead we cut taxes AND spending?

If there isn't a traffic danger because of the long grass, I hope they never cut it.

Doug

This was pretty funny, but the Dutch actually do stuff like this: they use medians, airport green spaces, etc. for farming. I think other European countries do too, but can only remember reading about the Dutch doing it. Of course, they have almost no tracts of unused land...

How about fencing and goats? Goats are nature's free lawn mower, they make milk and taste great with yogurt or falafel! Mmmmm Souvlaki!

Not Harry F. Byrd, Sr.

"One goat per median (and cheap gyros)" might fit nicely on a grip card. Instead of fences, maybe we could keep some border collies running around to make sure the sheep stay away from the cars.

A few live animals running around the median strips would do wonders for traffic.

Ghost of Henry Howell

How about if we give scythes to the guys in orange jump suits to deal with the weeds on state roads? All those folks that can't afford to pay "abuser fees" equals a lot of free labor to the state.

Not Ted Stevens...

Well by-crackity...I am under investigation now, so tarn-smarnity I might be up for 108 million dollars worth of grass. Is this the Cuban stuff we're talking about, or is this the Thai sticky-icky? Ted Stevens AWAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY.

=Emperor Ted Stevens=
"I kicked Grover Cleveland's ass...personally!"

novamiddleman

sounds like a job for the illegal aliens

we will pay you 7 bucks an hour to mow the grass

everybody wins :-p

Not Jack Herrity

"the budget shortfall is due to shrinking gas tax revenues and increasing road maintenance and construction costs which are rapidly starving the Transportation Trust Fund"

The gas tax is a poor way to fund transportation improvements. It's like relying on gambling revenue to provide welfare money.

We keep encouraging people to buy more economical cars, then scratch our heads when gas tax revenue shrinks because of it. Incidentally, despite the proliferation of the Hummer, gas tax revenue has been steadily shrinking since the Democrats ran Richmond.

The Commonwealth has to find a better way to tie transportation funding to actual road usage, not fuel consumption.

Jason

VDOT could cut useless spending in any number of places but it has chosen to cut where it would be most visible and hopefully con-vince the public into crying for more VDOT funding. Politics doesn't have to be partisan.

Not Jack Herrity

Jason: Name one.

NJH

Crisis?

http://blogfromonhigh.blogspot.com/2007/05/so-much-for-that-crisis.html
So Much For That Crisis
Remember, not long ago, how the commonwealth of Virginia was in a transportation budget crisis of monumental concern? That VDOT was having to make draconian cutbacks in order to fill our millions of potholes? That we had to raise a myriad of taxes in order to improve the state's crumbling highway system?

It was all a lie. Obviously:

VDOT to earn eco-credits with habitat project
By Jeff Sturgeon, The Roanoke Times

Along a busy, two-lane stretch of U.S. 220 in Botetourt County that needs widening for safety, the Virginia Department of Transportation is poised to spend millions without improving a single inch of the road.

The highway department is plowing ground on a grand scale to form a habitat for plants, insects and wildlife, complete with a meandering stream.

It represents a $3.2 million outlay to be used not on U.S. 220, but in a low-lying cornfield beside it that the state bought for $425,000. (link)

Our department of transportation bought a cornfield. For half a million dollars. On which VDOT is going to spend $3,200,000. A corn field. In a remote corner of the state.

Don't speak to me ever again about a transportation budget crisis. A transportation leadership crisis maybe. But there is obviously no budget problem.

BWAAAAAHAHAHAHA

Invisible Hand

Amen and Amen Novamiddleman!!!

NJH: the gas tax is a bad way to generate revenues, but not because of the reason you think. The budget shortfalls don't result from hybrid cars or diminished fuel consumption: indeed, fuel consumption has gone up steadily in the United States, and several counties in Northern Virginia are among the fastest-growing in the nation.

The problem lies in inflation: whereas the gas tax has remained a flat, fixed amount on a gallon of gasoline since it was first implemented, the relative value of those pennies on the gallon has diminished, whereas the price of labor to cut the grass has increased and the cost of fuel to run the mowers has tripled since 1998. Likewise, generating asphalt consumes a large amount of energy and petroleum, so the cost of asphalt has grown substantially, meaning we can fill less pot-holes for the same amount of money.

Which is something I think about everytime I drive through Rosslyn to get to the Key Bridge....

Hobie

Tennessee has a program whereby farmers harvested the hay in the medians (and certain right of ways). No cost to the state.

I know you were trying to be a smart alec but you're right (except for the figures).

Re-Run

Hmmmm - sounds like NHFB has tasted to Watts pro-gas tax Kool Aid . . .

Alex P Keaton

might as well tax us for looking at grass and using sunshine too... I don't think anyone has suggested the oxygen use fee in some time either... just a thought...

DO NOT TAKE THIS LITERAL General Assembly members.

I.Publius

You have to admire NHFB's ability to spin:

Bad stuff happens --> Blame the evil GOP in control of the GA.
Good stuff happens --> Thank the amazing Democrats in the governor's mansion.

Must be nice to credit and blame anything and everything any way you desire.

brimur

I guess I'm just out of step with the Democratic consensus in NoVA. I don't think the gas tax or any other regressive tax is preferable.

Not Don Rumsfeld

Dear Tedinmybed,

Golly o henny penny, don't fret now Teddy. We'll get you out of this spot, we just need you to do some testimoney for dear old Darth Cheney first, then we'll have your back like an up-armored McCain market marching hummmveeee. Honest. We'll scratch your goiter if you take one for the team.

And border collies? Grand idea! And we can use the goats to train more Navy medics for the upcoming Iran... I've said too much! Ted can play goat shuttlecock with the best of them!

A Voter

JMU Duke,

How were my economics flawed?

TAX CUTS have resulted in more money going into the national government. Even with the increases in spending, I heard today that economists are estimating that these cuts will result in a budget surplus within the next two years. (A surplus would reduce the national debt). It's true that you can't spend more than you have if you want to reduce debt, however cutting taxes produces more long-term revenue for the government, and more growth for the economy as a whole.

This is nothing new, it’s Economics 101. (Output/Tax economic correlation).

In contrast to NHFB’s comment, we’re only talking about this because Governor Kaine (D) signed off on budgetary policies that didn’t ask for enough taxes increases, right NHFB & JMU Duke? If tax increases were all that necessary wouldn’t he have amended the budget accordingly and vetoed anything that didn’t include them? I guess your proposed increases just weren’t important enough to Kaine. Since both of you seem to support the man, you should probably address him with your concerns in the future… that is, unless this is just a partisan and baseless attack on Republicans, but I highly doubt that either of you would do such a thing, right?

Michael Canny

Geoff and others, we don't need to cut taxes and spending. We've done too much of that already. Instead, we need to face the facts; providing services costs money. Instead of being politically popular and whining about taxes, lets start being honest and realistic, and tell people that certain items--like grass mowing--are essential to the public safety, & they need to quit crying about taxes--and pay their fair share.

novamiddleman

Michael thats why there are two parties some believe as you do and they are usually democrats

I would argue that there are still more areas of inefficencies within VDOT that could result in more cost savings that offset the "required additional funding" which is what most Republican really believe

neither side can convince the other and thats why we have elections

As an aside I could fix this problem in one day

1. Write up proposal 2. put out to bid 3. give contract to lowest bid

This does two things limits costs and would propably eliminate a VDOT position since I could do many other things the other 240 workdays.

Not Harry F. Byrd, Sr.

The Commonwealth of Virginia has studied this problem. They found that there are $108 BILLION of unfunded necessary transportation improvements in Virginia over the next 20 years. Go read the VTRANS 2025 Report that was done in 2003.

This last plan, barely addresses 15% of this problem even under the rosiest financial assumptions.

It's easy to say VDOT's the problem, but you're not going to fund $1 BILLION of anything to cut in VDOT much less $108 BILLION.

The Republican governing philosophy is you can have your cake and eat it too. When the grass doesn't get mowed voters start to understand just how bankrupt the Republican Party's ideas and ideology really is.

It is fun to watch these folks rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic which is today's Republican Party of Virginia.

A Voter

NHFB-

Seems like your ideals are so unpopular that they aren't even winning support from many people on your side of the isle.

For clarification purposes, Gov. Kaine is a DEMOCRAT not a republican. It is HIS "governing philosophy" that has allowed this to happen. I guess your ideals are so insane that even a liberal like Kaine can't support them, and that's saying something.

Not Harry F. Byrd, Sr.

Gov. Kaine had other motives for doing what he did and I'm not happy about them, nor do I agree with them, nor does much of the Democratic establishment including many people who ultimately voted for the "transportation" bill that passed.

Notwithstanding that, I still haven't heard you address any of the substance of what I said at 11:32 a.m. Then again, it's much easier for you just to attack difficult choices and say they are "unpopular" instead of acknowledging that these are things that need to be done for the good of our community.

I still haven't heard your proposal to find $108 BILLION.

Are you going to just prohibit all new residents from owning cars?

Never going to mow the grass any more?

Borrow more of our children's money?

Sell off more government assets to wealthy investors?

Borrow some more time by not dealing with our problems so the GOP can hold power just a little bit longer? Let's hear it.

A Voter

NHFB,

It's great that you've come to the enlightened realization that this is a bi-partisan issue. Or rather that a majority of the elected officials on both sides of the isle don't view it as important an issue as you do...

Regarding your numbers, I haven't seen them, so I can't really comment on them either way. I know that both the VA Democrat and Republican elected officials don't view grass mowing with the same zeal and passion that you seem to have for it. However, since neither side seems to desire a radical tax-hike or spending reduction in order to solve these issues, I have to wonder how valid your concerns are to begin with.

It's possible that a majority of the Virginia House, Senate, as well as the Governor are all against VDOT, and wish to under fund the department simply because it'll make them happy to see VDOT suffer. I'm just doubting that this is the case.

Not Harry F. Byrd, Sr.

Here are the numbers:

http://www.vtrans.org/

Go to Phase 3 Final Report to the General Assembly (right column) and read page 2 under the Executive Summary.

A Voter

My first reaction to that is to identify that this is a state estimate of needs from 2005 to 2025. They are identifying the possible trends if the funding ratio doesn't change over this period of time. It doesn't mean that we are $108 Billion short today, it means that we will be $108 Billion short if all things remain constant.

However, very little remains constant in politics over a 20 year span of time.

There is no call for an immediate $108 Billion tax increase, nor is there even an identified need for change in the current funding process until the year 2014.

In addition, there's plenty that this report doesn't seem to take into account. Most importantly, any increases in the state's budget. The VA budget has been growing substantially over the last decade. With growth, it's expected that things will be funded differently.

I'd suggest that budget surpluses over the next 18 years be re-directed towards transportation or else re-invested in the people through tax-breaks which will stimulate the economy for even more growth and provide for more tax-revenue in the long run.

Or how about this: How about we cancel the rail to Dulles and re-direct the revenue from the toll road towards road construction in northern Virginia? I’m paying about $600 per year to drive on that road, and I’d love to see the funds go towards something I’d actually use.

I'd suggest that the Governor and VA legislature has reached the same conclusions as I have regarding this report in realizing that none of this is an immediate concern… which is why you haven't seen a special session called this year in order to tackle the grass-cutting crises of 2007.

Not Harry F. Byrd, Sr.

It's not that simple AV.

Gas taxes are pennies per gallon - they're static. They don't increase. In fact, as gas prices go up and car efficiency goes up, gas tax collections go down, not up.

Maintenance, labor costs, capital constructions costs all increase. That's why the transportation budget is getting squeezed.

Surpluses are typically spent on other GF needs - you know state employees do need raises every once in a while, etc. I think your view of how the state budget works is a bit over-simplified.

A Voter

It's a budget, it's not rocket-science NHFB. There's plenty within the current budget that can be cut.

Do you remember The Wilder Commission that identified $1.3 Billion in possible spending cuts? In addition, if VDOT were to simply restructure their own spending they could save hundreds of millions of dollars by implementing the privatized road maintenance program that was piloted as a successful cost-cutting measure in the 90's and yet I don't think it was ever implemented.

Since this is a point you've continued to ignore, let me make it clear once again... with all other factors remaining constant: Raising taxes stifles economic growth. Cutting-taxes stimulates economic growth. This is simple Econ 101. You're proposing that we stifle economic growth in VA with no proposed means of reversing the negative impact of this. I think your views on how the state budget works, and how economics work in general, are uneducated and foolish at best.

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