Legislators aim to send more tax dollars to N.Va.

Northern Virginia conservatives promised this year to fight to get more money back from Richmond because the region is the economic engine of the state and sends much less than receives.

That shift is unlikely to happen, say their more senior counterparts in the Republican Party.

“I doubt seriously anything will happen this year,” said Senate Majority Leader Kenneth Stosch, R-12th District, of Goochland.

“I don’t envision any sympathy to changing the transportation formulas,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman John H. Chichester, R-28th District, of Stafford. “I haven’t felt any movement in that direction. I think when you do that, the pie is only so big — one area of Virginia is going to get more of the pie, some other is going to get proportionally less.”

The charge is being led by Prince William delegates L. Scott Lingamfelter, R-31st District, and Robert G. Marshall, R-13th District, and Fairfax Sens. Jay O’Brien, R-39th District, and Ken Cuccinelli, R-37th District.

Lingamfelter said that just like the state is sustaining the Southside during its period of textile layoffs and high unemployment, Northern Virginia faces its own crisis in the form of traffic congestion.

The legislators are using a scattershot approach: None are signed onto the others bills but each individually is attempting different strategies to change the formula.

House Bill 1394 that Lingamfelter has would the land area of military bases be taken into account for divvying up secondary-road funds, giving Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia an edge over the rest of the state.

The House Transportation Committee killed the bill until next year on a 22-0 vote on Thursday.

Secondary road category includes road types like like Linton Hall Road, Minnieville Road and Braddock Road. The current formula is 80 percent population and 20 percent area of localities, excluding military bases and state and national parks and forests of a minimal size.

O’Brien’s Senate Bill 1271 goes along the same lines: It changes secondary allocations to be based on number of registered vehicles in each county, giving urban areas an edge of rural neighbors.

His bill could be taken up by the Senate Transportation Committee as early as Thursday.

The House Transportation Committee voted 22-0 on Thursday to pass by Marshall’s House Bill 1595 that would have sent $120 million off the top of highway construction funds to Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads and along the Interstate 81 corridor — before those highway dollars are divided.

With money for three regions, Marshall had said the bill would have gotten enough votes on the House floor.

Lingamfelter has a similar bill with the same amount of funds still alive: House Bill 1852. It is before the House Appropriations Committee.

House Speaker William J. Howell, R-28th District, said those bills will do more harm than good.

He said Friday that $50 million diverted to Northern Virginia or Hampton Roads really wouldn’t help in the aggregate, but “you start taking five and ten million dollars away from counties and cities in Southside, Southwest Virginia, it will be devastating.”

Public-private partnerships like recent proposals to widen I-81 by separating truck and car traffic and putting tolls on trucks or possibly cars too will be part of the solution, he said. Another is the bill by Prince William Delegate John A. “Jack” Rollison, R-52nd District, to recommit the taxes on auto insurance premiums to transportation and finance bonds beginning in 2004, he said.

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