Virginia’s long-awaited spending plan has finally reached conference committee, but funding for the Dulles Metrorail could be the tension point as the House and Senate work to resolve their differences on the budget.
The House of Delegates rejected the Senate’s amendments to the budget Tuesday. Senate amendments to the two-year, $85 billion budget include pumping tens of millions of additional dollars into public schools, health care and transportation, notably $300 million for a Metrorail extension to Dulles Airport.
Under dispute, according to The Washington Times, is the $300 million which will specifically be used to help control the rising toll prices on Dulles Toll Road that will pay for the second phase of the a Dulles International Airport metro stop.
Northern Virginia legislators will especially be fighting to keep this money in the budget.
According to the Times, Senate Minority Leader Richard Saslaw from Fairfax, said that even though Northern Virginia accounts for about a third of the state’s sales tax and revenue, just seven percent of transportation money went to projects in the Northern Virginia Transportation District.
The project to build the Dulles Metro stop, or silver line, is ready for Phase 2, which is estimated to cost around $2.8 billion.
Published on Patch.com, a letter from the Reston Citizen’s Association asks the Board of Supervisors to withhold funding for Phase 2 of the project until alternative funding sources can be found.
On average, Dulles Toll Road users will pay more than $70,000 each in tolls over the forecast horizon. If you are a long-term heavy user of the toll road—a daily commuter (73 percent of all trips according to survey data), say—your burden will be higher. And Fairfax County accounts for about half of the toll road trips according to the forecaster’s survey. That means about 70,000-90,000 Fairfax residents—much less than 10 percent of the County’s population—will end up paying about $8.5 billion over nearly four decades to use the toll road.
That money could be used to send kids to good colleges, to buy a more comfortable home, to replace that tired old commuter car, to spend on needed medical care for themselves or a loved one, or even to spend on some niceties. It is all money that will not be going into the local economy or state or county tax streams. Instead, it will be dumped into toll baskets, electronically or physically, to pay off the toll road revenue bonds issued by MWAA.
* Why are all the marijuana cultivation centers going to Ward 5?
In an investigative report, Ward 5 Heartbeat determines that city officials are actually steering these cultivation centers to the ward.
According to documents obtained by the publication, D.C. Zoning Administrator Matthew LeGrant quietly told applicants for cultivation center licenses that they could only locate on property zoned for light manufacturing or manufacturing.
Because all suitable manufacturing or light manufacturing property is Ward 5, LeGrant essentially forced the cultivation centers into the Ward, according to Ward 5 Heartbeat.
Back in December, Ward 5 residents were outraged when they learned that 27 out of 28 applicants for medical marijuana cultivation centers wanted to be in Ward 5.
In January, the District gave preliminary approval to seven cultivation center licenses, six of which were applying to be in Ward 5.
* Here’s a Bearing Drift interview with Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli discussing the Supreme Court health care case with Bearing Drift.
In the interview he said that he believed the justices would find the individual mandate to be unconstitutional.
* The Virginia State Police might be violating federal law by requiring trooper applicants to make their social media accounts available during the hiring process, the state’s ACLU warned Tuesday.
In a statement, ACLU Executive Director Kent Willis said the government should not be allowed to have access to “our most intimate and confidential connections,” according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch.
State police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said the department would be responding back as appropriate and will continue its same hiring process in the meantime.
"As we have stated before, we feel our investigative background process is necessary and appropriate for the job our applicants are expected to do and the authority granted to such individuals upon being hired on to the Virginia State Police."
* Former school board member Libby Garvey won a special election Tuesday night to secure a seat on the Arlington County Board.
The Democrat won 49 percent of the votes to defeat Republican Mark Kelly and Green Party candidate Audrey Clement.
Turnout was an historic law.
* The Washington Examiner reports that most D.C. Council members will be getting raises this year because of a 2.2. percent cost of living raise this year that’s mandated by a law passed in 2006.
Council Chairman Kwame Brown, Ward 3 Councilwoman Mary Cheh and at-large members Michael Brown declined to accept their raises.