The MSM in Virginia is today talking up a Virginia Commonwealth University poll taken recently that provides some "surprising" results in light of the upcoming special Tax Session of the General Assembly. According to the poll, the issue the general public says should be the top priority of state government is, drum roll please — not transportation.
Its public education. Followed by jobs. Followed by the environment.
Oh, then comes transportation — nearly tied with illegal immigration.
Now, the environment, transportation and immigration are really in a statistical dead heat, but given all the political rhetoric concerning the "transportation crisis" one would think it would top the list. And while politicians in Virginia scramble for "solutions" to the "crisis" as they prepare to invade Richmond next month, Virginians don't appear to be on the same page — either with the level of concern or the with ways to fix whatever problem exists.
Now, one can argue over the implications of any poll. And taking this one too far and ignoring transportation altogether would not be a smart move either.
Yet, the divide between our elected officials and the concerns of citizens seems to grow each and every day. Anyone who has spent time in Richmond knows how quickly legislators can lose touch with what people really care about. Too often their only information comes from "special interests" (oh yeah, we be one of 'um) and the media. In the case of transportation there are two clear drivers — much of the business community in Virginia who are once again pushing tax increases on consumers, and politicians who simply want more revenue to spend (Dick Saslaw are you listening?) and will use any issue to push higher taxes. Citizens are not behind the wheel of this one (OK, enough with the puns).
But as we've said in previous posts: The June 23 special session isn't really about transportation. It is about taxes — more specifically, raising them. The revenue increases that will result are in no way promised to future road repair or building. They will just mean more money for politicians to spend on the next "crisis."
And the Great Divide gets even wider.