With Democrats still divided on transportation , Senator Saslaw fueled further inter-party bickering yesterday. It looks like we were right about Governor Kaine lacking support for his tax plan, even from his own party!
Governor's Road Proposals Have Va. Democrats Feuding
By Tim Craig Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 15, 2008; B01
RICHMOND, May 14 -- Virginia Democratic leaders are divided over how to raise money to build and fix roads, a rift that threatens to dash Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's hopes of enacting a statewide tax increase this year.
The internal battle between House and Senate Democrats over what taxes should be increased represents a turnaround in Virginia politics. For much of this decade, it has been moderate and conservative Republicans who have been divided, resulting in stalled efforts to enact taxes or fees to relieve traffic congestion and repair the state's aging network of highways.
Now Democrats in the General Assembly are feuding among themselves over the $1.1 billion tax proposal Kaine (D) unveiled Monday. Senate Majority Leader Richard L Saslaw (D-Fairfax)lashed out at House Democratic leaders Wednesday, underscoring Kaine's limited influence with even Democrats when it comes to the transportation debate.
Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath), a likely candidate for governor next year, said, "Governor Kaine wanted the Democrats in the House and the Senate to get behind one set of proposals, and that is just not going to happen."
Disagreements between Senate and House Democratic leaders have been building for weeks, though Democrats are still more unified than the GOP was when it held both chambers of the General Assembly from 1999 until this year.
Saslaw has been pitted against House Minority Leader Ward L. Armstrong (D-Henry) and Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria), also a candidate for governor, in trying to lobby Kaine over how he should put together his proposal.
Saslaw, backed by many Senate Democrats, wants an increase in the state's 17.5-cent-a-gallon gasoline tax, which hasn't been raised since 1986. Armstrong and Moran, who are spearheading efforts by Democrats to gain the majority in next year's elections, oppose a gas tax increase, citing the record price of fuel at the pump. Kaine agrees. "
I just don't think we can impose [a gas tax] on the public when they are already paying three dollars and 60 cents a gallon," Armstrong said. "We all have constituents that are struggling to put gas in their car."
Kaine and Democrats commissioned a poll six weeks ago that found more than 80 percent of residents oppose a 15-cent-a-gallon increase in the gas tax. Saslaw shot back at the House Democrats: "I don't run the state on polls, and if Brian and Ward want to run the state on the polls, that is their problem."
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