The Virginia General Assembly is at an impasse when it comes to funding long-term transportation projects in Northern Virginia, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling said Tuesday during a stop in Mount Vernon.
Bolling, who spoke to the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce at the , said the state needs about $1 billion per year in additional funding for long-term transportation needs. Bolling, a Republican who has already announced a run for governor in 2013, said both Republicans and Democrats in Richmond understand the state Transportation Trust Fund needs increased funding, but the parties disagree on where to find that money.
Members of the Republican-controlled House of Delegates want to see transportation projects funded with existing revenue, he said, while the state Senate, which is tied 20-20 between the parties, has pushed for tax increases for transportation.
“We’ve got to resolve this problem sooner, rather than later, and it’s going to take the governor and the General Assembly working together to figure out how to crack that nut,” Bolling said.
Bolling touted as a success nearly $4 billion the state authorized this past session for highway roads and construction, which should fund some projects for about five years. But he was not optimistic about the impasse in the General Assembly breaking anytime soon.
“To be honest, I’m not sure we’re any closer to that today than we were 10 years ago, when Gov. (Mark) Warner tried to start the effort,” he said.
Economic growth in Virginia
Bolling also addressed the state’s efforts to get Virginians back to work and spur economic growth. This includes persuading American companies to relocate in Virginia, expanding existing firms and increasing tourism, he said. He also said he wants to make Virginia the “energy capital of the East Coast of the United States,” including investments in coal, nuclear, offshore wind, solar and biofuel energy.
Since January 2010, Bolling said, the state has helped close 798 economic development deals and seen more than 51,000 new jobs and $7.9 billion in capital investment. “That is a pretty good result in what continues to be a pretty tough national economy,” he said.
About 44 percent of those deals have taken place in Northern Virginia, Bolling said.
“Clearly, Northern Virginia is the economic engine of the Commonwealth,” he said. “There is no question about this. … We really do appreciate that, and that’s why we care so passionately about making sure that Northern Virginia remains a great place to live and to work and to learn and to raise a family.”