The Post has highlighted McDonnell’s fuzzy transportation math.

The Washington Post editorial board, having read Bob McDonnell’s transportation plan, doesn’t like what they see:

Much of the plan relies on wildly optimistic assumptions, brazen exaggerations, gauzy projections and far-off scenarios: budget surpluses and revenue growth that may not materialize; interstate tolls that the federal government may not approve; royalties from offshore oil and gas wells that may not be drilled; borrowing that the state may not be able to afford anytime soon. Lump all that in a file called “Don’t Hold Your Breath.” Insert some of his other proposals — such as diverting some sales tax revenue from schools, public safety and human services statewide to pay for Northern Virginia road improvements — into a file called “Politically Dead on Arrival.” Quite simply, much of what Mr. McDonnell has in mind would almost certainly not come to pass during his four-year term as governor, if ever.

There is one aspect of McDonnell’s plan that I found appealing, and that’s the $500M that he proposes raising by privatizing the ABC. I think it’s bizarre that the state is in the liquor business, and I think we ought to sell them off before a court forces the state to, at which time they’ll go for fire-sale prices (because the state really won’t be in a position to negotiate). It turns out that the $500M number is totally invented. The editorial board asked the campaign where the number came from, and they had a couple of citations, one of which was a wildly optimistic theory for how Pennsylvania could benefit from selling off their stores, the other was Virginia’s Wilder plan, which provided no dollar value.

That’s the theme of McDonnell’s plan—there’s all of these “then a miracle occurs” steps. That’s not a plan. That’s a daydream.

(Via Ken Bernstein)

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

8 replies on “The Post has highlighted McDonnell’s fuzzy transportation math.”

  1. Given that Holsworth has a different recollection than the Post editorial board—understandable, given that it’s been 17 years—it’d make sense to check the contents of the Project Streamline report. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to track down a copy online. My inclination is to figure that the Post is relying on contemporary accounts of the results of the report within their own newspaper while Holsworth is relying on his memory. Frustratingly, I can’t track down any articles on the topic of the Wilder Report via LexisNexis.

  2. I love it when supply-sider Republicans go to ciphering! What the Wilder Commission said was:

    We estimate that the dollar amount that could accrue from these streamlinings, outsourcings and eliminations, including the privatization of ABC, could total more than $500 million.

    And I really don’t know what qualifies Bob Holsworth to weigh in on the economics of privatization – certainly warming a commission seat didn’t give him a degree in finance or economics. Maybe it’s a faith-based assumption. The bottom line is that Waldo is exactly right – the Wilder Commission never got to an accurate costing of ABC privatization…read the report and verify that for yourself.

  3. This problem is massive relative to the size of our state’s budget. Are we going to triple the Transportation Fund? That’s basically what VTrans said we needed to do. At a minimum, they said a one third increase. That min is a billion per year. A couple of pennies to the motor fuels tax would not cover even a tenth of that.

    The scope makes me doubt that either candidate will come up with a solution that makes a discernible difference once in office. I doubt that voters really want to take on the cost. So, what they say on this issue doesn’t make a difference to me. I am resigned to the fact that my commute will only get progressively worse. If one of of them leveled with us about the real cost, the additional revenue required, and what that would mean for individual tax burdens, I’d be less skeptical.

  4. Shaun; I read Dr. Bob’s post, he needs to stick to prognosticatin’ elections and running opinion polls and such. Farting into the boardroom chairs at the Wilder Commission don’t make him a state revenue authority.

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