Peter’s Take: Why McDonnell Failed as Governor

by Peter Rousselot January 15, 2013 at 2:00 pm 2,592 167 Comments

Peter RousselotHe’s still got one more year in office, but we already know that Bob McDonnell has failed as Virginia’s Governor. He never proposed a real plan to solve the major problem facing Virginia: how to generate enough public revenue to pay for our transportation systems.

We should have known.

We should have known when McDonnell said he could solve our transportation problems with a flawed proposal to sell off Virginia’s publicly-owned liquor stores. He campaigned on this idea in 2009, and spent his first year in office trying to get his flawed plan enacted.  Those were two wasted years.

We should have known when McDonnell said he could solve our transportation problems using Virginia’s Public-Private Transportation Act (PPTA).  In practice, the PPTA has produced tremendous distortions in risk allocation, allowing private sector companies unjustly to enrich themselves while forcing the public sector into wasting hundreds of millions of our tax dollars on ill-conceived projects.

In 2013, Bob McDonnell is giving transportation funding one last try. He won’t succeed. How do we know? Because he’s already proved that he lacks a strategic plan to generate sufficient public revenue for transportation. What’s missing from all his plans: sufficient new tax increases to generate the necessary funds.

The higher taxes we need to fund Virginia’s transportation systems have to be enough higher to solve the problem. McDonnell’s latest plan does involve an increase in the state sales tax, but that increase is way too little to generate the necessary funds. And, McDonnell is also proposing to eliminate the main current source of funding for transportation: the gas tax. Finally, the sales tax is used to fund many other vital programs, like education and mental health services, which also need more revenue, but will lose revenue to help try to pay for transportation.

Excusing past failures by saying a real solution will be DOA in the Virginia legislature is not an excuse.

Governor McDonnell: take a stand, propose a real solution and fight for it. Maybe you’ll get your plan enacted, maybe you won’t. Why not try?

Wouldn’t it be better in the end to propose a real solution and fall short rather than an inadequate solution and fall shorter?

Peter Rousselot is a member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee. Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column published on Tuesdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

  • novasteve

    Sounds like you’re scared of McDonnell successded on the national level. I’d much rather have a gov like him, and at the national level than the democrat version like Martin O’Malley who gets off on banning things and taxing things. Would you rather live in MD or Va?

    • OverArlington

      Completely agree with you novasteve

    • John

      I’d rather live in Northern Virginia than Maryland. But I’m pretty sure the DC burbs in Maryland are just about identical.

      • novasteve

        You have much wackier rules in the DC burbs in MD’s because they don’t have the dillon rule. very intrusive. You have bag taxes, in addition to rules forbidding tobacco use in private residences that have common areas (apartments, condos) etc. Virginia is very different than MD, and that’s what makes it better. Maryland is an EXTREME nanny state. It’s been ranked as the state with the least about personal freedoms, and it has gotten worse under O’malley in addition to taxes going up incredibly.

        • Max

          Oh no! They have a bag tax in MD, much much more invasive than the laws making it illegal for two men to sleep in the same bed in Virginia.

        • jd

          Less freedoms… better schools, apparently…

        • LPS4DL

          Experience shows that those who complain the most about the “nanny state” are those most likely to need a nanny.

      • KalashniKEV

        Wrong. They don’t drink Freedom deeply in Maryland, as we do here in old Virginia.

    • KalashniKEV

      Steve’s best post ever!

      • CourthouseChris

        I’d say you two should get a room, but I wouldn’t want to advocate violating Virginia criminal code § 18.2-345.

      • fedworker

        I agree. Thanks for the reference n-s

    • Xanadu

      I’m new to Arlington Now, but, seriously, a committee member of the state Democratic party is invited to write a weekly column? I hope that there is a similar column by a Republican. Or maybe, even better, how about we have policy analysis done by experts? Reading rote Democratic (or Republican) talking points is a waste of time. Is ArlNow that hard up for content?

      • Yes, we have a column by a former Republican candidate for County Board and we also have a column from a former independent candidate for Congress.

        • Taylor

          I think ARLnow was stronger when it did not serve as a soapbox for state or national political arguments. Please keep ARLnow local.

          If we want to find hyper-political opinions such as this one, we can do so on just about every other news outlet.

          • I must agree. This is way beyond the scope (and attitude) of what I’m looking for in Arlnow.

          • CourthouseChris

            “All politics is local”

            lol, sorry had to say it. I know it’s out of context.

          • Tom

            +1 million and when you criticize, Mr. ARLNow blocks you from commenting. Poor excuse for journalism at this point

          • novasteve

            If you people have a problem with a story like this, then don’t read it, you don’t have to insult Arlnow or Scott personally. Grow up people.

          • drax

            Says the guy who constantly insults all voters who choose Democrats.

          • TomTom

            Being told to grow up and not complain by novasteve is like being told by a prisoner not to go to jail

        • ljp

          So what do the liberals have to offer as a program to solve this issue? Put up or shut up. After all, we are all Virginians and should strive to make the Commonwealth a better place no matter what our political leanings. Perhaps we should cut spending….a concept the left does not understand either.

          • speonjosh

            Cutting spending in and of itself is a bit of an inane goal. For example, what is your target? Why is spending $x-1 better than spending $x? Aren’t they both arbitrary numbers?
            Instead, what specific programs would you argue should be cut? Why?

            Note that my arguments are tailored to the Virginia state budget, since this is a column about Virginia. The Virginia state budget, in case you didn’t know, has run a sizeable surplus for the last three years in a row.

          • CarlJr

            “Cutting spending in and of itself is a bit of an inane goal.”

            That right there is the problem with the left. Clear as day.

    • mc 703

      It sounds like you are admitting that McDonnell has failed. You’re saying you’d rather have a gov like him who can’t get anything done than one who wants to (rightly) ban assault weapons.

    • FC resident

      The author appropriately looks like a goofy liberal.

  • drax

    Exactly. Bravo.

  • BBMS

    Party line comments noted. Next…..

    • OverArlington

      Agree. 100%

    • drax

      How dare I have an opinion that happens to line up with other people’s opinions!

      How dare my opinions be consistent with my past ones!

  • 350sbc

    Here we go. I’m grabbing some popcorn.

    • OverArlington

      I did the same thing. LOL!!

  • Whew!

    Whew! Typos are a small price to pay to be first in this thread, right Steve?

    • novasteve

      Brilliant counterargument.

      • jackson

        So was yours: “Sounds like you’re scared… banning, taxing…”

        • novasteve

          That’s what they do. Or are you going to deny that O’Malley is boasting about banning assault weapons and constantly raises taxes?Do you deny that? Do you need me to provide a list of taxes he’s raised recently let alone during his entire term? Do I need a list of the things he and his party has banned during that term as well?

          • Hee-Haw

            yes please

          • Mandrake

            You’ve identified precisely the reason that Maryland is outperforming Virginia and my wife and I are looking to move to MD this year. Yes Maryland is doing all those things and more correctly while Virginia continues to take steps backwards.

          • novasteve

            Enjoy your higher crime and higher taxes, Mandrake. Outperforming VA? Like in tax rates or crime rates? maryland is LOSING people due to its policies.

  • OverArlington

    Wow. I use to like going to this site but I have realized lately that they are very one sided. McDonnell has done a LOT for VA. We ranked for education in many areas. We still have the highest salaries in the Country, in Arlington. The average per household is still over the national average (I understand this is not in all areas). As for transportation – you should go work at DoT (I have) and it’s not easy to get ANYTHING done with them. BTW most of our roads belong to DoT. Have you been to the mixing bowl or the Woodrow Wilson Bridge lately, they are 10,000 times better than when I moved here 8 years ago. How about stop writing just what you think (I know the First Amendment) and actually write articles with substance. Thanks!

    • Alex

      “How about stop writing just what you think (I know the First Amendment) and actually write articles with substance.” It’s clearly stated as an opinion piece, what’s your definition of opinion?

    • Mr. Neuron

      Oh, Yeah, he’s been great. Gov. Vajayjay Probe …. & on and on. Just a prince of a fellow

      • novasteve

        And the governor of the state above is boasting about how he plans on violating the people’s second amendment rights. Didn’t McDonnell reject the probe?Did he propose it? No he didn’t. But if you want to blame him for something he has nothing to do with, more power to you. But you’ll still be dishonest.

        • MC 703

          Where in the 2nd amendment does it guarantee the right to military-style assault weapons? It also doesn’t mention RPGs, which are arms.

          • novasteve

            It doesn’t mention abortio n either. And what is “military style”? You want something banned because it looks like something used in the military, but isn’t the same?

          • C Sharp

            What about semi-automatic rifles with high capacity magazines, sold at a gun show with no background check?

      • Mary-Austin

        Don’t be silly…The vaginal probe thing is the last thing McDonnell wanted.
        It was a distraction pushed by the Democratic Party hacks like Rousselot and lucky for them it seemed to work.

    • Louise

      “We ranked for education”? What does that mean? Aside from that statement, how are you tying the other claims to McDonnell? What does he have to do with the salaries Arlington residents earn (many of whom actually earn those salaries across the river, in DC)?

      • OverArlington

        I haven’t seen the statistics that say XX% of the residents in Arlington make their money in DC vs VA. Yes, I believe that McDonnell has tried (just like your Democratic Congressmen) to keep Contractors, etc in the Arlington area, bringing jobs into the area which equals salaries. And yes I do tie education rankings to the Governor. Democrats stood on this platform when their guy was in office last time and he didn’t do much.

    • FrenchyB

      OK, so what exactly did McDonnell do for either the Springfield Interchange or the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge? Both projects were pretty much completed before he even became governor.

    • drax

      How did McDonnell improve education?

      How dd he increase salaries in Arlington? I thought people worked for their money, not the government.

      Don’t even being to claim that McDonnell has done anything for transportation. The Woodrow Wilson Bridge? Mostly federal money.

    • Vicente Fox

      McDonnell has done a LOT for VA. We ranked for education in many areas. We still have the highest salaries in the Country, in Arlington.

      What does “We ranked for education in many areas” even mean?
      McDonnell (or any other governor) has zero to do with the high salaries in Arlington.

      So try again on the LOT that he has done.

    • Nick

      No, Maryland actually has the wealthiest county and Maryland schools ranked higher than VA. I don’t like that it is one sided either but get your facts straight because not only are you making yourself look illiterate but you are saying stuff that is not true. And I do not live in Maryland if you were wondering I live in Springfield.

      • Marie Antoinette

        Nick, I pray you are not talking about Maryland’s ghastly University system…

    • CW

      @OverArlington – if you had read the site in the past week you would see that ARLnow is giving the soap box once per week to a D, I, and R. I don’t think it is one-sided; that sounds rather fair to me.

      Now, whether most readers want to see opinion, talking points, and fluffy dogs on the home page rather than the hard news that got ARLnow its fame – well, that’s another debate.

  • that guy

    Great job (sarcasm), Peter following what you said last week… specifically: “As 2013 unfolds, you’ll find that my take on the subjects I’ll be writing about will depart sometimes from the “party line.””

    How about instead of blame, you suggest a plan to fix anything… especially a plan that isn’t just raise taxes to spend more.

    • FrenchyB

      Yep, getting really tired of politicians who offer only criticism without proposing any solutions.

    • drax

      “especially a plan that isn’t just raise taxes to spend more.”

      See, this is the whole problem. You poison the well by insisting that the only good solution not be touched.

      We need to raise taxes (the gas tax) and get some dollars into transportation. That’s it. We will pay MORE eventually if we don’t.

      And McDonnell has just proposed a large tax increase as part of his transportation solution (which sucks anyway, but that’s another story), he just won’t admit it, and I’ll bet you won’t either.

      • that guy

        drax, I’m fine with taxes going up if need be. Note the “just” that I said, because at the end of the day, taxing and spending doesn’t work alone.

        I recognize that McDonnell has proposed a tax increase and I’m honestly not opposed to it, as long as the gas tax goes away, too. The money has to work out to increase the transportation coffers, but the gas tax has been out of date for decades. It seems to me that rather than quadrupling it, it makes more sense to have a smaller/broader impact with something like sales or property taxes.

        • drax

          What else do we need besides raising taxes and spending them on roads? That’s basically it. Not rocket science, just courage.

  • novasteve

    Do we want VA ro remain more like VA or become more like MD? Because the differences between republican policies and democrat policies are quite clear with these two neighboring states. MD has higher crime, it’s losing jobs and population, and has higher taxes, you also have less personal freedoms outside of gay marriage. Things get banned left and right in MD. they think of new things to tax on a daily basis. Would you rather have someone like McDonnell or O’Malley as a senator or every President? O’Malley desperately wants to be president.

    • Hee-Haw

      examples of “things get banned left and right” and “new things to tax on a daily basis” ?
      I really don’t know, that’s why I’m asking.

      • novasteve




        O’Malley promising to increase gun control


        You’ve got all sorts of drastic restrictions in MD counties like I’ve listed elsewhere. Like banning tobacco usesage in common areas of apartments, you’ve got howard county banning sugary drinks on county property..

        Talking about transportation, O’Malley completely raided the MD transportration trust and used the money for other purposes. How the democrats in MD want to increase the gasoline tax as a result.

        • wimmer201

          That tobacco rule sounds great to me!

          • novasteve

            Yes, nothing like taking away the ability of the landloard or HOA to make that decision. It should be up to the government. Sounds like you’d be happier living in MD with the government acting like your mommy.

          • wimmer201

            Yes, I wish VA did have that rule. But in the meantime my HOA is moving toward enacting that rule for our building because over here in the real world we know how unhealthy second hand smoke is. You probably think the earth is flat, too.

          • novasteve

            That’s nice that you want to act like adults and do that in your building. Funny how you get to act like adults and make that decision rather than having the state treat you like a child and making it for your. What other decisions do you like having the state make for you?

  • North A-Town Snob

    More taxes, tax increases, new “revenue” for “investment”…always the answer to every problem…so let’s become Maryland. Even my very liberal friends who are Maryland residents are saying things there have gotten out of control financially there and two of them who were lifelong Marylanders have recently relocated across the river to Arlington & Falls Church and their specific reason was the tax burden over there. We are better than Maryland (as a lifelong Virginian I’ve always felt this way) so let’s not follow their lead and raise taxes and make Virginia less desirable to those looking to relocate themselves or their companies here.

    • novasteve

      The problem is when these liberals leave MD due to liberal policies, they pull the same crap and vote for the same types where thye move to. NY and CA expat liberals ruin wherever they move to. Marylanders will do the same. Liberals make their bed, they should lay in it. Not move every time they make their bed and dont’ like the consequences.

      • drax

        Liberals move from town to town, scarring the landscape, corrupting the women and girls, and killing all the crops they touch. Then they move to the next town to terrorize the populace.

        • Hee-Haw

          I think Mr. Smith calls that a virus…where’s Neo when we need him ?

        • novasteve

          They do flee liberal states due to the consequences of liberal policies. It happens all the time in NY and California, and people are fleeing MD for nova now. Problem is they try the same thing over again where they move to. You can pretend this isn’t happening if you like, but you’ll only be denying fact.

          • drax

            “You can pretend this isn’t happening if you like, but you’ll only be denying fact.”‘

            Well, you said so, so it MUST be true!

          • he7261

            yeah, as a liberal i can confirm that i feel an uncontrollable urge to flee states whenever they pass legislation i support

          • novasteve

            It’s the consequences of policies liberals support that causes liberals to flee. Their incessant need for a feel good moment encourages illegal immigration, destruction of families, etc which results in high crime, and needs more revenues for people to get handouts since they aren’t self reliant. These means either debt or more taxes are needed. Are you going to deny that liberal states have the highest tax rates? Do you deny MD has more crime than MD? And to tout that MD has the best shcools in the USA. Well that’s not saying much given how horrible US schools are DUE TO LIBERAL POLICIES. Dumbing everything down. Our students can’t compete because we teach to the lowest common denominator so that liberals can get a feel good moment.

          • Jackson

            Wow, you are all over the place with this. Liberals cause ” destruction of families”? Is that because of all the gays and abortions? Liberals destroyed the educational system with the “liberal policies”? “Dumbing everything down”? What about No Child Left Behind, Bush’s legacy? Teach to the test. Brilliant.

  • Andy

    The best thing McDonnell has done is govern relatively from the center (with the major departure to that being his pandering to the right with it’s restrictive policies for women’s health clinics.)
    Of course he was helped in that regard by having Cucchinelli to be extreme enough for the both of them.
    But he has failed to bring about the transportation improvements he campaigned on – that cannot be denied.

    • bobbytiger

      I’m certain that McDonnell will follow thru on his transportation initiatives, right after Obama closes his, (campaigned on), GITMO. And, he has been given an additional four years to do just that.

  • Wayne Kubicki

    Peter, a question for you.

    You write that the PPTA “forc(es) the public sector into wasting hundreds of millions of our tax dollars on ill-conceived projects.”

    How exactly doe the authority to do projects under the PPTA force the public sector to do anything?

    • Another question

      And isn’t a PPTA being proposed by the Arlington County Board to build the Columbia Pike Trolley? So what is it…wasteful when a GOP proposes using it but okay when the Democratic controlled Arl. County Board okays it?

      • speonjosh

        A) He didn’t express an opinion on the use of the PPTA for the streetcar. But yes, it would be best if he opposed use of the PPTA for the streetcar.
        B) PPTA is not “being proposed” to build the streetcar. They merely wanted it added to their list of options to build the streetcar.
        C) My own opinion mirrors that of Mr. Rousselot – public-private partnerships generally keep the profits private and the risks public.

    • Peter Rousselot

      Wayne, You are correct that my choice of the word “force” is misleading. It would have been better to have said that the PPTA and its guidelines have resulted in some very poor investments of our tax dollars because Virginia state and local public entities have done a poor job analyzing the risks they were undertaking. A more tightly worded statute and guidelines could have saved these public decision-makers from their own bad judgments. Peter

  • WhyJustOneSidedOpinions

    ArlNow, Are you a media outlet for advancing the opinions of the Democratic Party? I recommend you post opinions from both political parties when editorializing.

    • Dan

      That is why they are going to have three columnists…….though it would have been interesting if the first column “out of the blocks” would have something less than totally predictable in tone.

    • OverArlington

      Completely agree. And you can tell who on here definitely sides with him as they are one sided. If there is a Democrat in office everyone is giving him credit for everything. When a Republican is office the only thing he gets credit for are the negative issues. Sounds fair, right? Folks are very blind in this area.

      • drax

        And I see plenty of folks, including some on this thread, giving Republicans all the credit and Democrats all the blame.

  • Ballston Resident

    Arlington Now,

    Never saw a supposedly ‘unbiased’ site like this take on an attack like you did with Bob McDonnell. Aways believed that news was supposed to be neutral and that the new sorganization just reports the facts. You failed here.

    Don’t like your censoring of readers comments. Granted a lot are a lot very negative comments, – but that is the nature of the web. I suspect you are censoring reader comments to achieve your own political agenda and this may be even worse.

    You may have lost a long time supporter by this story.

    • MC 703

      Did you not see the column written by the GOP guy the other day?

    • speonjosh

      You need to pay a little closer attention.

      I don’t think they’ve ever said they were an “unbiased” site. So the supposition is purely your own.
      THe post was not by any ARLNow staffer, but rather a guest post. So you can’t accuse ARLNow of attacking anyone.
      I’m not sure ARLNow has ever said they were a “news organization.” (Your beliefs about “neutral” and “facts” could lead to a very lengthy discussion about what those two words mean and whether it is possible for any new organization to live up to what you think they mean.)
      Have you identified a “politicial agenda” on the part of ARLnow? What is it? I’m serious – I can’t figure one out myself. There have been times when I have thought their political leanings were one way, and then other times when I thought they were another way. So, what do you think they are?

      • Rudy

        I thought they were quite proud about being a news organization. I think the unbiased part is therefore implied.

        I don’t understand the point of your whole post. Are you trying to say that they have some bias?

        • Josh S

          The problem is, what does “unbiased” mean? How would you prove that you were or were not unbiased? It’s literally not possible to publish every known fact about every story. So, you have to choose which facts to present and which not to present. This decision then leaves you open to accusations of bias.
          In any case, I was reacting to Ballston Resident’s denunciations of the site based on reading a guest editorial. He or she seemed to go too far and I was trying to counter that.

    • drax

      Jeez, Ballston Resident, pay attention.

      He said he was going to have some guest columns. He’s already posted three – one each from a Dem, a Repub and an independent. More of all three will certainly follow. Don’t throw a fit just because you didn’t go first and you weren’t paying attention enough to know that this won’t be the only one.

  • Arl Co. Trash & Recycling Guy

    Pure garbage.

  • ArlNow

    I have no problem with ARLNow posting all these commentary pieces, however, they should be on a separate site. It just does not work in a blog format, it’s ‘forcing’ us to read commentary, which should always be kept separate from news. Ditto on all the sponsored articles ‘events, dogs, real estate, beer.’ He sold out and took the site down with him.

    • Josh S


      • CarlJr

        Not weird.

        I win the internet!

  • FED

    Fact of Life – For years Virginia’s population has been growing by 80,000 to 100,000 each year, annual population growth depends on the health of the national economy. How has ANY administration, Republican or Democratic, dealt with planning and constructing public infrastructure concomitant with the State’s population growth?

  • Westover

    I really can’t see how the Governor could have done any more than he has. We are a strong free commonwealth. I am happy about the job he has done, far more than Kane did.

    • OverArlington

      100% agree with you.

      • CourthouseChris

        You are a very agreeable fellow. Everything is “completely” this, “100%” that…

    • drax

      What specifically has McDonnell done that you like?

      • Teacher001

        Got the state to fund the first raises for public school teachers in six years.

        • drax

          He did? I know he proposed a raise recently, but I don’t think it’s been enacted.

          I also know he cut education by $646 billion.

          • BBMS

            I find that hard to swallow. The entire state budget is under $50 billion. Where did you get that figure?

          • drax

            Oops, $646 million.

          • BBMS

            Well, that is quite a difference, LOL. Nothing like not knowing what you talk about!.

            That’s roughly a 4% spending cut, certainly nothing too earth shattering. I doubt it even was noticeable, probably related to some sort of funding formula adjustment.

            I do note that more money is in the 14 budget for education than was in the 13 year. That’s not a cut.

  • David A.

    ….Yawn. Wasn’t it then Gov. Tim Kaine who refused to audit VDOT and when Gov. McDonnell did, they found that it had $500 million in available funds even as they began to close down rest stops.

    This opinion piece is pure garbage.

    • drax

      So that’s McDonnell’s list of accomplishments? An audit?

    • RWarren

      I thought it was closer to $1 billion, but who’s counting?

  • RWarren

    Well, once the dust settles from this nasty partisan screed by the author, let’s not forget that McDonnell’s plan has yet to be implemented, and so reserve judgement. I’ll also give him credit for proposing something that does not violate the constitution, which is more than we can say for what Timmy Kaine did for transportation legislation, amirite?

    • Josh S

      Gosh, we have gotten hypersensitive in the Internet age if we call this a “nasty partisan screed.” The piece was about as bland a political attack as you’ll ever hope to read.

  • pkcasimir

    Let’s see now. McDonnel still has a year left in office but has failed because he hasn’t solved the transportation funding problem. Yet several days ago he proposed one of the most far reaching transportation funding plans, totally constitutional unlike his predecessor’s plan (for whom the author is in the tank), and the legislature is now taking his proposal up. Did this guy actually read what he wrote? I hope we are going to get somebody a little more intelligent than this bozo to comment on politics.

    • drax

      His proposed funding plan sucks horribly. It’s another gimmick to try to get around making the tough decisions.

      • ACDC Hack

        “His proposed funding plan sucks horribly”

        Thank-you for your in depth analysis !!

        As always, your deep insights are greatly appreciated.

        • drax

          Uh, my point was that just proposing a plan, as pkcasimir suggested, doesn’t mean squat. You have to propose a GOOD plan. McDonnell has failed because he hasn’t proposed a good plan.

  • Runaway Train

    “Governor McDonnell: take a stand, propose a real solution and fight for it. Maybe you’ll get your plan enacted, maybe you won’t. Why not try?”

    Because three paragraphs above you just told him “He won’t succeed” This article contradicts itself in a number of ways. While I lean toward the left, this guy is out in left field.

  • Westover

    Peter Rousselot is why the area Democrats have not allowed a real primary challange to our disgrace of a Representative Jim Moran. I wish his opinion was kept to his self so that we could move our little hamlet forward with a real leader.

    • drax

      Party officials cannot control who runs against Moran in the primary. And one guy doesn’t control who everyone votes for in that primary.

    • Josh S

      What purpose does it serve to say “I wish his opnion was kept to his self?”

      I wish your opinion was kept to yourself.

      See, that’s about as useful, isn’t it?

  • Arlingtron

    I am not sure what eliminating the gas tax is supposed to accomplish. It currently pays for the highways which can certainly use more funds. That is an indirect toll on the actual users (residents and visitors). The current tax is about 20 cents per gallon, one of the lowest in the USA (highest is NY at 49 cents and lowest is Alaska at 8 cents). Having a higher tax also helps keep prices low since demand goes down significantly as we approach the $4 price.

    • drax

      Dumping the gas tax is supposed to accomplish a political ad script when he’s running for president. Nothing more.

    • Norm

      Truth is that it does not “pay for the highways”. It does not produce enough revenue, and since gas consumption is falling the revenue falls too. You can’t tack on enough pennies to the gas tax to make up for the revenue shortfall. The gas tax is a failed concept in the 21st century.

      McDonnell’s plan is innovative, and projections show that after a few years will begin to generate enough revenue to cover transportation expenses. It is also smart because as a percentage of price tax it automatically adjusts for inflation and will provide even more revenue as the economy comes back.

      It has a lot of merits, and could possibly prove to be a model for other states to follow. That is why it has the liberal bloggers and talking heads in an absolute tizzy. I love it.

      • Josh S

        I’d guess something like 75% of the “liberal bloggers and talking heads” are “in an absolute tizzy” based on the idea itself, not that it is being proposed by a conservative governor. Sure, some are opposed to anything from the other party, but if you’re taking time to analyze and criticize the idea, you probably actually are identifying real flaws in the idea. The idea itself, and its pros and cons, is not inherently a conservative idea.

        For example, you conclude that the “gas tax is a failed concept in the 21st century”, but the only argument you provide to support that conclusion is that “you can’t tack on enough pennies to the gas tax to make up for the revenue shortfall.” Sure you can. It’s just math. Also, how does one go from – the gas tax isn’t providing enough revenue to fully fund our road building needs, to – we should eliminate the gas tax? Isn’t the proper response to *raise* the gas tax? Especially when there are plenty of other societal benefits that come from reduced VMT and gas consumption in general?

    • Josh S

      Actually, gas demand is about as inelastic as any commodity. $3.00 – $3.25 – $3.75 – not much difference in total consumption.

      Also, “having a higher tax also helps keep prices low” makes little sense.

  • novasteve

    What does Peter think about our county board’s chairman protesting/boycotting in favor of illegal aliens?

    • Marie Antoinette

      +10. The Socialist Republic of Arlington and her drunken Board…

    • drax

      What do you think of McDonnell? You’ve posted several comments here on this article about McDonnell yet hardly said anything about that actual topic.

      • novasteve

        I think he’s done an okay job. Not perfect, but certainly an improvement over Kaine, and drastically better than O’Malley in Maryland.

        I ask the readers here, if democratic politics are so great, why aren’t you living in MD where democrats dominate the state? What is it about Virginia that drew you here and keeps you here if you could have a lot more like minds in MD?

        • jackson

          What keeps you here, Steve, when it seems that your views are more in line with Mississippi, Alabama, or Kentucky?

          • novasteve

            I should move to Alabama because you refuse to cross a river so you want to make my state like the state across the river rather you living in MD?

          • jackson

            I was born in Virginia, Steve. Why would I move to Maryland? As you constantly say, I’m living in Democrat paradise here in NoVA. I’m sorry the states more in line with your way of thinking are too far away to consider.

        • drax

          Got specifics, steve? What exactly has McDonnell done that you like?

  • Marie Antoinette

    Why doesn’t McDonnell propose a folly trolly?

  • Novastephanie

    And for that I thank my lucky stars.

  • Hee-Haw

    No one is you, but you

  • Dissapointed

    I’m dissapointed that the first political columnist on Arlnow is so overtly partisan. Dregding up party talking points does not contribute to the political discourse. Arlnow could have done much better in choosing someone for this column.

  • TuesdaysChild

    This is a useless article by Peter. A democrat attacking the republican governor. Very predictable. Not news, not useful, not informative. Arlnow should cancel all of these columns and focus on news.

    • drax

      It was predictable, but useful. Why don’t you actually respond to the substance of his opinion? Can you?

  • FredPret

    This is the worst Beermonger column yet.

    • ArLater


  • mickey_

    I think that he is partaking of a bit of the “wacky tabaccy”. Heck, the answer is ALWAYS raise taxes and NEVER lowering taxes. The more you tax, the more “other peoples money” you have! Why not cut the waste and abuse? 5 workers doing one persons job? Cut the trolly idea, take a HARD look at where you can cut. Taxing more is not the answer.

  • roquer

    Peter must be one of those gloom & doom liberals who love unions, and taxes. In Virginia we use money wisely, don”t overtax folks and have the right to work law. That means Virginia is prosperous far beyond Maryland, more folks want to live here, businesses have moved from Maryland and DC to Virginia for the tax rate, and lack of unions. In Virginia we have the right to defend ourselves, the right to carry a weapon for protection. In Maryland, O’Malley just made it a law that certain guns can’t be used to defend oneself, there ARE no concealed carry for protection, crime is rampant, and O’Malley just introduced a bill to not have capital punishment. So, in Maryland you can’t defend yourself, and neither is the government going to defend you. Crime is down in Virginia, up in Maryland. Peter, if you are so positive that McDonnell has failed why not move to Maryland? Sounds like your kind of place.

    • novasteve

      There’s some concealed carry permits in MD but they are very hard to get.

      I agree those critical of McDonnell, since MD is so close, why do you live in VA and not MD?

      • Max

        Because I was born here. Why don’t you move to Alabama when that would be so much easier for me.

    • drax

      Our roads and bridges are crumbling.

    • LOL Right to work law

      which actually translates as “right to be fired with no notice or reason required”

      • Josh S

        Don’t forget – right to earn less than people in neighboring states doing the exact same job.
        Oh, and right to have a significantly smaller benefits package than workers in neighboring states doing the exact same job.
        All while, on the other side of the equation, the corporations employing me enjoy the same or higher profits than in unionized states.
        Who is benefitting?

  • Jake O

    We need a Waffle House in Arlington. Wonder if McDonnell can come thru with one of those?

  • Mary-Austin

    So basically this guy is saying McDonnell should propose a plan that Democrats like that has no chance of passing and then at least he can feel good about himself.
    What a waste of time.
    Maybe McDonnell proposes achievable solutions because that is what governing is about.
    The widening of wb-66 between Ballston and Sycamore is an example of this. McDonnell went ahead and did it…traffic seems to move better on that stretch of 66.
    Meanwhile Rousselot, Favola, and co. got nothing done and sat around whining.
    I think McDonnell has been a pretty good governor. Not perfect but certainly not a failure.

  • Jane-Dallas

    I’ve yet to see anyone on here who says they like the job McDonnell has done list any of his accomplishments. (No, “not MD” isn’t an accomplishment.)

  • JohnB

    We need a Strong Towns (http://www.strongtowns.org/) approach to transportation investment in this state. None of our previous Governors were very good on this but Gov. McDonnell’s DOT has been especially bad (Charlottesville by-pass, 460 by-pass) about spending our limited resources on projects that will not generate enough wealth to maintain them into the future. Gov. Kaine belatedly realized that sprawl development was generating unsustainable maintenance costs on VDOT and took action to curb it but it was too late as the housing bust was already in full swing.

    • Josh S


    • Chad

      Just because you say those projects are bad does not make it so. What is your objective data that says they are bad projects? Roads are not supposed to generate enough wealth to maintain themselves, that is not have infrastructure works.

  • Babby

    Maryland recently had a Republican governor, so I wonder if the anti-everything commentator thought Maryland was the promised land then?

  • KalashniKEV

    Why are we giving this guy a soap box to spread his partisan nonsense???

    • drax

      This is the most ironic comment ever posted ever.

      • Josh S

        I agree with you.

        Also, to KK – who is “we?”

  • Not Me

    But I thought transvaginal ultrasounds were a real step forward. He’s a real pioneer…. for the 1500’s.

    Complete with guns in every hand and superstitious God fearing ignoramuses being swayed like cattle towards the latest fear.

    Where women are in the kitchen or on their backs and men kill stuff.

  • Henry Bennet XIII

    This drivel is exactly why ARLNOW shouldn’t have political hacks doing commentary.

    ARLNOW is showing it’s political science degree lace underwear by thinking any one cares what ANY OF THE THREE have to say. I think you are jumping the shark.

    • BBMS

      I’ll give them each about three columns before declaring anything definitive.

      But I agree, this first installment was not something that made me think “Gee whiz, this guy is a real thought leader in our community”.

    • drax

      From the looks of the comments, lots of people cared.

      I find it weird that you would dismiss political commentary because the writer is a politician.

  • BBMS

    I dare anybody to do the math on how much more gas tax is needed to close the $4 billion transportation funding gap. I dare you. LOL.

  • Rory

    Let’s keep this local. People can go to DailyKos or Redstate or wherever for their daily political and partisan columns. What’s the point of this?

  • LPS4DL

    Bob McDonnell lied to us, of course, when he ran for governor. Knowledgeable people knew he couldn’t deliver on his transportation promise. A 5th grader could have seen through his bogus math. But the real losers, like the people who commented above, voted for him because they believed him. Here it is, 4 years later, and no progress has been made to fund VA transportation properly. SWVA doesn’t need roads, so people pretending to be from NVA who support McDonnell really belong in SWVA. Here, we need roads, we need road maintenance, and we need more money to do that. McDonnell’s true colors show him to be anti-government, anti-tax, and out of step with the main stream. Like the other dinosaurs in Richmond, he will fade away.

  • john

    Next Governor please

    • ACDC Hack

      Be careful what you wish for………


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