Governor Kaine's Transportation Plan a Huge Hit with the Choir
After a long evening of bare-knuckled, confrontational grassroots activism, I'm usually ready for a nice, tall Bosco with some Animal Crackers.
WHO: Virginia Governor Tim Kaine and an auditorium full of mostly Democratic supporters.
WHAT: "Town Hall meeting" to discuss the Governor's plan to raise taxes for transportation projects throughout the state.
WHEN: Tonight, about 3 hours ago.
WHERE: Sterling, Virginia.
WHY: To preach to the choir and the media about the need to impose new taxes.
If you weren't on the Democratic guest list, you probably did not know the event was taking place. Luckily for us, our local "Orange Revolution" himself - Eugene Delgaudio - and Jim Parmelee of Republicans United for Tax Relief, got word out to a bunch of us rabble and we descended with green signs a' blazin'.
Governor Kaine, to be honest, did a REALLY good job presenting his case. Emphasis on the "presenting" more than the "case." The man has a bright political future on the national scene. I see a lot of public speakers in my regular life, and Tim Kaine is right up there. Personable and erudite, he speaks without notes (in complete sentences, no less), and he employs just the right combination of "college professor" and "motivational speaker" to really shine in the town hall format.
All that being said, the content of the Governor's talk wasn't such a clearly cut "rah rah" message.
Here's the Kaine Transportation Plan [below the fold]:
1). Traffic is bad in Virginia.
2). To build more roads etc. will take a commitment of serious money for at least five years.
3). If we attempt to get the transportation money from the regular budget - you know, the one with the $1.4 billion surplus - we set ourselves up for an utterly unthinkable Sophie's choice "between schools and transportation."
4). Therefore, the transportation project must be funded with entirely separate money which will need to be raised through new taxes.
5). And the four new taxes are: Increased tax on every auto insurance policy, about $18 per insured person per year; increased registration fees on vehicles according to gross weight - I call it the "SUV tax" (and this brought one of the larger ovations of the evening); increased tax on every auto sale; and higher fees for penalties on bad drivers, mainly DUI and those with points.
Obviously, point number 3 above is the sticky wicket, and thank goodness this was a public forum where voices from all sides could be heard on this contentious issue.
On stage with the Governor and in the audience were an assortment of elected officials from both political parties. After Governor Kaine finished his presentation, he invited responses from both Democratic and Republican state senators and delegates.
Let me tell you, there is nothing like living in a democracy: The ensuing dialogue from both sides of the political aisle exhibited a broad range of responses to the Governor's plan, from effusive praise all the way to drooling sycophancy.
"Republican" Sen. Russ Potts' bellow of approval for the plan brought another uproar of applause from the Democratic audience.
I had to leave before the Democratic audience had a chance to join in the discussion. For all I know, the folks in our anti-tax contingent might have gotten a word in edgewise. I hope they did, although amidst that crowd it would have been tough to make much of an impression on the elected officials.
The anti-new-taxes message will have to come out in a forum less like a Democratic steamroller. I and others will attempt to provide that forum in the coming days. Tonight was for the Democrats and nominal (translated, "elected") Republicans of Virginia. This was not a town hall discussion intended for conservatives.
Color me out of here.
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