RICHMOND (Legal Newsline) - Before he makes his own run at Governor, Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell offered some criticism of current Gov. Tim Kaine's $1 billion transportation plan.

McDonnell, a Republican, has long held an interest in improving the state's road system and thinks the state could do so without the tax increase proposed by Kaine, a Democrat.

"(I)t is disappointing that the Governor's third transportation plan since taking office is basically the same as his first two," McDonnell said Monday.

"Through all the conversations, negotiations and debate of the past several years, the Governor has continued to rely on his belief in higher taxes with increased spending, going to the same government bureaucracies that have not delivered transportation services efficiently."

Kaine's plan addresses three areas: A highway maintenance deficit, relief for the heavily congested Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia areas and a Transportation Change Fund.

The plan would increase the statewide grantor's tax by 25 cents, increase retail sales tax in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads by 1 percent, increase existing motor vehicles sales tax by 1 percent and increase the annual vehicle registration fee by $10.

"I am offering a plan that is simple, statewide and sustainable to address the growing shortfall in our maintenance needs and provides dedicated funds to address our statewide and regional transportation needs," Kaine said.

McDonnell, who has already announced his intention to become Governor in 2009, says the state spent more money on transportation last year in 22 years without a tax increase. He added it is remarkable that Kaine does not mention that plan, which provided nearly $560 million in new funding.

"The Governor's plan announced today gives no indication that this funding has occurred, and contains no creative reform components," McDonnell said. "Instead, the Governor paints the picture of an empty bank, which must be replenished with higher taxes on Virginians trying to sell their homes, buy new cars, or register their vehicles."

"(I)t is unfortunate that the Governor's plan relies on regressive taxes that place a disproportionate burden on lower and middle-class citizens. This is not the way to improve transportation in Virginia."

From Legal Newsline: John O'Brien can be reached via e-mail at

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