Wednesday evening saw members of the local General Assembly delegation come to speak to the April meeting of the Council of Civic Organizations (CCO), Virginia Beach's civic league federation. In attendance throughout were Terrie Suit, Frank Wagner, and Ken Stolle. Arriving late was Ralph Northam. Leaving early were Joe Bouchard and Bobby Mathieson.
The first question was on the Homestead Exemption, which was killed in the Senate. While Suit voted for it, in hindsight, she says it was probably a mistake. Ken Stolle went farther, stating an Arlington Board of Supervisors member who testified on the Senate side stated that it would be used unevenly. Frank Wagner commented that it could be used to effectively do the work of a Redevelopment Authority by imposing harsh taxes on an area a city wants to take, while granting exemptions in an area a city wants to promote. It was agreed an improved Homestead Exemption Amendment will probably be brought forward in the 2009 Session.
The big issue was Transportation. Frank Wagner said tolls will probably be part of any solution, and that you couldn't raise statewide taxes high enough (given the state's formula) to tackle Hampton Roads' Transportation problems. Therefore, there will have to be a regional component. Joe Bouchard stated "We can't spend our way out of this mess", and "It's time to get smarter."
Ken Stolle had a couple quotes on Transportation that would make the Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance livid. He said, "If you think there's enough General Funds to fund Transportation...everyone up here at this table (i.e. the delegation) is going to disagree with you." In addition, "If there's anyone up here saying I can build you roads for the future without raising taxes, they're lying."
Since it's been an issue in the blogosphere, I had submitted a question (intended for Bobby Mathieson) on Governor Kaine's death penalty moratorium. However, Mathieson left early and the question was never asked. (I tried.)
Other bloggers present that I recognized were Eileen Levandoski of VBDems.org and Brian Kirwin of Bearing Drift & Reagan's GOP.