AAA Mid-Atlantic asked the Virginia Senate Finance Committee to approve House Joint Resolution 41, a constitutional amendment introduced by Delegate Dave LaRock (R-33) that would ensure that transportation funds would only be used for transportation purposes, AlexandriaNews.org reports.
The General Assembly could still borrow from the fund in emergencies, with a two-thirds vote, but would have to repay it within four years.
The House of Delegates approved the resolution by a vote of 78-21, and it was expected to go to the Senate Finance Committee this week.
“AAA Mid-Atlantic urges members of the Senate Finance Committee to approve this first-ever and crucial transportation lock-box amendment to guarantee that money intended for construction, highway maintenance, and other transportation needs will be used for these purposes and nothing else in the future,” said Tom Calcagni, Regional Director, AAA Mid-Atlantic Public & Government Affairs, according to the news agency.
“A reliable 21st century transportation system is essential to Virginia, its citizens and its economy. Dedicated and protected funds are fundamental to maintaining and improving our current roads and bridges and building new ones. Without adequate, well maintained and safe roadways, access to medical facilities, places of employment, and for emergency vehicles, among many other things, are at risk for all of us.”
“Failure to properly maintain roads and to invest in improvements and future construction is not just about transportation. Poor roadway systems can impact public safety and the economy,” said LaRock, the news agency reports.
“Virginia is moving forward with responsible transportation investment, delivering long-needed projects and catching up on deferred maintenance. The time has come to ensure that transportation funding is secure, so that we can continue our solid progress providing the infrastructure Virginia needs to improve commerce, safety, and quality of life.”
If the Senate Finance Committee approves the amendment, it will pass to the General Assembly for approval and then go to Virginia voters in the form of a referendum in the General Election on November 6, 2018. If the voters approve, the change would immediately become part of Virginia’s Constitution.
“AAA believes that without protection, money raised for transportation is in danger of being pilfered in the future. From the need to balance the budget to ever increasing competition for money to fund a wide variety of current and potential future areas, lawmakers will be forever tempted, without a lock-box, to take monies that are needed for Virginia’s transportation infrastructure,” Calcagni concluded, according to the news agency. “It is the government’s responsibility to provide a safe and effective transportation system. AAA calls on them to do just that.”