Gov. Mark Warner has decided to amend a bill giving Hampton authority to hold a referendum on raising the sales tax to support transportation projects to include Northern Virginia.
Local reaction was swift.
“I certainly believe that most of us will support the amendment, but I am not certain that it will pass, at least inside the Beltway,” said Del. Marian Van Landingham (D-45th). “The funds that we would receive won’t come close to solving our transportation issues, and we really need money for education. It is just very unfortunate that we were not permitted to vote on a measure that would have included both transportation and education before we adjourned.”
A bill that would have included both was on its way to the floor of the Virginia House when Speaker Vance Wilkins adjourned the session.
“Of course we will support a measure that allows voters to decide an issue, but I am very disappointed that we didn’t get the opportunity to vote on both education and transportation,” said Del. Brian Moran (D-46th). “The governor has indicated that he might call for a special session to discuss an education package, but our only real hope for additional funds this year was through an increase in the sales tax.”
Del. Kris Amundson (D-44th) agreed. “While I will support the amendment, I believe that a transportation referendum, alone, will have a very difficult time passing here. We need money for education, and this would have been an excellent way for us to get it,” she said.
Van Landingham is very concerned about education funding. “I know that the governor is planning to come forward with an education package,” she said. “With the state’s current financial crisis, however, I believe that the only way we are going to be able to fund education the way we should is through some sort of a tax increase. We are facing as much as a $3.8 billion deficit over the next 30 months. I guess we will see just how committed to education the voters in Virginia are and whether they believe that putting money into our public schools is important.”