WASHINGTON – There may be a message for Congress in the way Virginia handled transportation funding during the legislative session that ended Saturday.
The plan will bring the state almost $1 billion in each year for the next five years, though it includes what some have called the biggest tax increase in the state’s recent history.
“It was a balanced approach,” says Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a former Virginia Governor, appearing on the CBS program “Face The Nation” on Sunday. “It wasn’t perfect, because compromises aren’t perfect.”
Kaine also praised Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell.
“He had to buck Grover Norquist to do it,” Kaine says, referring to the leader of the taxpayers group “Americans for Tax Reform.”
Norquist often gets lawmakers to take a pledge not to vote for tax increases under any circumstances.
Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington, says the vote in the General Assembly shows practicality and some political courage.
“They demonstrated that even strongly held ideological positions can be set aside in the interest of a compromise,” he says.
Farnsworth says it is a lesson that Washington can learn from Richmond.
Virginia is among the states that could be hit hardest by the mandated federal spending cuts that will come March 1, unless Congress can reach a compromise.
Farnsworth says the compromise in Richmond on the transportation bill may increase McDonnell’s political fortunes. McDonnell by law cannot run for a second term, but has often been mentioned as a possible national candidate.
Farnsworth says some Republicans who voted for the tax increase may find themselves challenged in primaries in the current election cycle from the right wing of their own party.
The entire General Assembly is up for re-election this November.