AAA Urges Virginia Senate Finance Committee to Approve Constitutional Amendment to Protect Transportation Funds

Vote Expected this Week on Measure to Ensure Vital Transportation Funding Not Raided for Non-Transportation Programs in Future

double yellow road line with cracks

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA.  (February 26, 2018) – AAA calls on members of the Virginia Senate Finance Committee to approve a constitutional amendment that would guarantee transportation funds will be used for transportation purposes only. Dedicated transportation money is intended to pay for Virginia’s transportation needs such highways, public transit, airports and ports, but has been used in the past for programs unrelated to transportation.

House Joint Resolution 41 by Delegate Dave LaRock (R-33), if passed, ensures that vital transportation funding cannot be raided to balance the budget or simply diverted for use in other areas. The General Assembly would still, however, be able to borrow from the fund in emergency situations, by a two-thirds vote, with repayment required within four years.   The measure was approved overwhelming by the House of Delegates and will be heard in the Senate Finance Committee this Tuesday.    

“AAA 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 only be used for these purposes,” said Georjeane Blumling, Vice President of Public Affairs for AAA Tidewater Virginia. “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 road 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.”

The amendment would put an end to historic raids on transportation funds, which in the past has resulted in a funding crisis that left Virginia struggling to pay for basic maintenance and unable to invest in critical infrastructure for nearly a generation. 

In 2013, after nearly two decades of inaction, Virginia lawmakers passed a transportation funding package that ensures that adequate money for the Commonwealth’s transportation needs.

Delegate Dave LaRock, the resolution’s chief patron has championed the issue for the past two years. The measure passed the General Assembly under his leadership and is poised to passage again this year. “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 Delegate LaRock. “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.” 

The General Assembly must approve an amendment in two successive sessions, when there has been an intervening general election in between, as there was in November 2017.  Even though the amendment proposal was approved by the General Assembly last year, it must again be approved by both the House and Senate this year.  If approved, the proposed amendment will go before Virginia voters via a referendum in the General Election on November 6, 2018. The results of that referendum are not subject to veto by the governor, and, if approved by the voters, the change would immediately become part of Virginia’s Constitution. 

As part of North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA Tidewater Virginia provides its more than 330,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding AAA Tidewater Virginia has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. For more information, visit AAA.com and follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/AAATidewaterVA or Facebook at facebook.com/AAATidewaterVirginia.