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Local Va. Leaders Hope To Prioritize Transportation

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A lot has changed in Richmond going into the 2012 legislative session next week: Republicans still control the house, but now the GOP also has an edge on the other side of the general assembly. Republican Lt. Governor Bill Bolling holds the tiebreaking vote in Senate now split 20-20 between Republicans and Democrats.

But Fairfax County supervisor Jeff McKay, a Democrat, worries that nothing has changed when it comes to how Northern Virginia fairs in terms of state resources. He says Northern Virginia gets less than it deserves and part of his message to legislators this year is do no harm.

"Pretty much leave us alone," says McKay. "Unless you can help us, leave us alone. Don't further hurt local government and impede our ability to deliver our services."

McKay says he'd like to see an ambitious plan to bring in new revenue to help fund transportation needs, but isn't expecting one this year, especially after the governor's failed plan to privatize state liquor stores for that purpose.

Governor Bob McDonnell's proposal to help address the issue is expected to be met with resistence. McDonnell says he'd like to see a larger portion of Virginia's sales tax revenue go toward transportation needs.

Most lawmakers in Richmond agree that traffic congestion and road maintenance are major problems in the Commonwealth, but analyst Bob Gibson -- executive director of the Sorenson Institute for Political Leadership -- says the Governor's proposal will be seen as controversial. Democrats have already said they intend to oppose it because it would be taking from the pool of money that funds education and other state projects and programs.

Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chair Corey Stewart, a Republican, says it's wrong to look for one silver revenue bullet to fix the state's crumbling infrastructure.

"It is a matter of just overall spending reductions in every other part of the state government in order to make room for transportation funding," says Stewart.

One thing that Stewart and McKay agree on: as the state puts off measures to address transportation funding, more of the burden will fall on Northern Virginia taxpayers.

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