- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 25, 2007

With the majority-Republican General Assembly’s passage of a landmark compromise transportation bill that does not include statewide tax increases, Gov. Tim Kaine is likely to grow more peevish and petulant like a child who just had his favorite toy taken away.

Mr. Kaine was elected governor in 2005 after campaigning on a promise to solve the state’s transportation problems. But the governor demands that it be done one way: his way, which means increasing taxes on everyone. As The Washington Post noted yesterday in reference to Mr. Kaine’s campaign promise: “But although the plan’s last-minute approval gives Kaine the opportunity to make good on his campaign pledge, it also could rob Kaine’s Democratic Party of a compelling issue when all 140 lawmakers face voters Nov. 6.”

Now that the General Assembly has passed legislation to do that which will be paid for by borrowing and by giving Northern Virginia jurisdictions the option to raise taxes for transportation if they wish, the governor sounds like a fella who wants to kick and stomp his feet a bit. Mr. Kaine spent much of Friday and Saturday urging legislators to defeat the compromise, decrying the legislation as “a very bad idea,” “bogus” and “irresponsible.” After awhile, lawmakers decided to tune the governor out, as adults are wont to do when junior throws a fit. Approval of transportation package, noted The Post, “was a blow to his influence and relationship with the Republican leaders he had opposed.”

In a very real sense, Mr. Kaine has only himself to blame for his unpleasant predicament. Since the General Assembly session began last month, the governor has been content to remain on the sidelines (all the while complaining periodically about how the irresponsible Republican ideologues were preventing a solution to the commonwealth’s transportation problems) while the House of Delegates and the Senate did the hard work of trying to find money to fix transportation. Although the House voted 64 to 34 to approve the package, it faced a difficult road to passage in the Senate, where Finance Committee Chairman John Chichester — an even more fervent advocate of tax increases than Mr. Kaine — lobbied furiously to block it. But on Saturday, the Senate voted 21-18 to approve the package. In both Houses, Republicans voted overwhelmingly in favor; the Democrats against it.

The Democrats are understandably furious given that they may have just lost their number one issue in Virginia politics. Mr. Kaine now has until April 4, when the General Assembly convenes for a one-day session, to add his own amendments to the bill.We would be amazed if the governor is not busily preparing some poison pills that will turn Republicans against the bill, so that Mr. Kaine can turn back the clock to the 2005 campaign.


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