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McDonnell, Democrats Disagree About Findings Of Transportation Audit

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By David Schultz

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell says an audit of the state's Department of Transportation has found more than a billion dollars sitting unused. McDonnell wants to spend the money as soon as possible, but some Democrats are taking a more conservative stance.

McDonnell, a Republican, says at a time when Virginia was drastically cutting its transportation budget, the state was actually sitting on a huge amount of cash.

For example, he says VDOT kept a six month cash reserve totaling $200 million.

"I believe an unrealistic and unacceptable reserve policy kept far more resources sitting in the bank that should've been deployed," says McDonnell.

But State Senator Dave Marsden, a Democrat from Fairfax County, says those reserves were sitting there for a reason.

"VDOT's reluctant to spend that money because of emergencies like the snowstorm last year, hurricanes, bridge collapse, whatever, they need the money to do that," says Marsden. "And now we're talking about eating the seed corn, if you will."

Marsden says McDonnell's audit didn't identify any new funding, so VDOT's budget is still deficient. In fact, he says, McDonnell's plans to spend transportation money more quickly will actually exacerbate the long-term shortfall.

Other sources of funding the audit identified, include money allocated to inactive projects, and better leveraging of federal matching funds.

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