Governor Bob McDonnell issued the following statement this evening following the Senate Democrats decision to reject advancing a transportation funding bill of any kind. The Democrats partisan rejection of all proposals, combined with a failure to even put forward a transportation plan of their own, follows a bipartisan vote in support of the Governor's transportation funding plan in the House this morning.
"On a day when a new report from the Texas Transportation Institute again ranked the Washington, D.C./Northern Virginia/Maryland region as the most congested area in the country, the Senate Democratic caucus, most of whom represent that region, chose to vote on strictly partisan lines against progress on addressing these challenging issues. The Democratic caucus repeatedly said no to improving transportation in Virginia. They did this despite today's study showing congestion costs Northern Virginians $1400 per person per year, and leaves them sitting in traffic for 67 hours every year. Rather than engaging in a debate on how to move forward with tackling our transportation problems, it is apparent that the Senate Democrats, led by Minority Leader Richard Saslaw, are once again content to risk our continued economic prosperity and our citizens' quality of life. Their partisan, lock-step opposition to fixing transportation is incredibly disappointing. Sadly, the Senate Democrats appear to be the 'Party of No.'
With their no votes today, these senators chose to vote against $1.8 billion for new construction, over $500 million in additional funding for transit, and over $270 million for passenger rail. Just last year, the Senate Democrats used the tolls on the Dulles Toll Road, and their demands for additional funding to mitigate the costs of Phase II of the Dulles Metrorail Project, as their stated reason to repeatedly kill a budget. Now, just one year later, those very same senators today rejected the $300 million in this bill to lower the costs of the Dulles project, thus ensuring higher tolls for drivers in Northern Virginia. There is no defense for such an about face. Clearly, this was all about partisanship, not policy. Virginians deserve far better from their elected officials.
Recent polling has shown that a majority of Virginians from all regions of the Commonwealth strongly support passing a solution to our transportation challenges this session. They want a solution now. The House of Delegates stepped up and on a bipartisan basis passed a transportation funding solution. Thankfully, their action means a transportation bill is still advancing this session, despite today's partisan blockade by Democrats in the State Senate. It is now past time that the Senate Democrats support their constituents and get serious about tackling the challenges facing Virginia's transportation system."