Thursday, April 21, 2011

Way to go Nancy McNamara!

Nancy is spot on in this op-ed to the FLS.

Worth a read, especially in dfense of property rights!

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Virginia Ranked Sixth in the Nation for Lowest Tax Burden on New Investments

Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of Governor Bob McDonnell


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2011


Contact: Jeff Caldwell
Phone: (804) 225-4260
E-mail: Jeff.Caldwell@Governor.Virginia.Gov

Virginia Ranked Sixth in the Nation for Lowest Tax Burden on New Investments
– Ernst & Young Study for Council on State Taxation Lauds Virginia’s Low Corporate, Property and Sales Taxes –

RICHMOND – The Council on State Taxation (COST) has rated Virginia sixth in the nation in a new study ranking states by tax burden on new investment. The study, “Competitiveness of State and Local Business Taxes on New Investment,” was compiled by Ernst & Young in conjunction with COST.

“Virginia continues to be recognized for its pro-business environment. The Commonwealth is the best place in the nation for private-sector economic investment,” said Governor Bob McDonnell. “This latest top-ten ranking prepared for COST by Ernst & Young, recognized leaders in business analysis, joins a long list of accolades that Virginia has earned for its low taxes, skilled workforce, limited regulation and favorable quality of life. Virginia is wide open for business and these experts are recognizing what many private businesses and job-creators have known for a long time—that there is no better place to invest than Virginia”

The study compares all 50 states on the competitiveness of current state and state and local statutory tax provisions and the financial characteristics of new investments. The estimated tax burdens on selected investments are combined to provide an overall measure of the business tax competitiveness of each state. The study focuses on five types of capital investments that states compete to attract: headquarters facilities; research and development facilities; office and call center facilities; durable and nondurable manufacturing facilities.

To read the full study, visit http://www.cost.org/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=78442

COST is a nonprofit trade association formed in 1969 representing over 600 multistate corporations engaged in interstate and international business. COST’s objective is to preserve and promote equitable and nondiscriminatory state and local taxation of multijurisdictional business entities.

This study was prepared by the Quantitative Economics and Statistics Practice (QUEST) of Ernst & Young LLP in conjunction with the Council On State Taxation (COST). QUEST is a group of economists, statisticians, and tax policy researchers within Ernst & Young LLP’s National Tax practice, located in Washington, D.C.


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Governor McDonnell Announces More Than 900 Projects Funded by Transportation Legislation to be Included in Draft Six-Year Improvement Program

Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of Governor Bob McDonnell


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 20, 2010


Office of the Governor
Contact: Jeff Caldwell
Phone: 804-225-4260
Email: Jeff.Caldwell@Governor.Virginia.Gov

Virginia Department of Transportation
Contact: Joe Vagi
Phone: 804.371.8304
Email: Joe.Vagi@VDOT.Virginia.Gov


Governor McDonnell Announces More Than 900 Projects Funded by Transportation Legislation to be Included in Draft Six-Year Improvement Program
Additional Funding Will Advance Critical Road, Rail, and Transit Projects and Create Much-Needed Jobs Throughout the Commonwealth
As a Result of Legislation, For the First Time in Years the Six-Year Program will Include Additional Funding and Projects

RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell announced today the completion of the Draft Fiscal Years 2012 – 2017 Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) Six-Year Improvement Program (SYIP). This SYIP update includes more than 900 projects recommended for funding through the governor’s historic transportation legislation adopted by the 2011 General Assembly and signed into law earlier this week. The draft SYIP will be presented to the public during a series of hearings in April and May and is available online beginning today.

“Over the last several years, the Commonwealth Transportation Board has cut more than $4 billion from its program,” Governor McDonnell said. “At the same time, our roads and bridges have continued to deteriorate and congestion and demand for alternative modes of transportation have continued to grow. Thanks to the bipartisan support of this year’s transportation package, we will make an upfront investment in restoring our transportation system and addressing these critical needs. This infusion of funds will help accelerate or complete the more than 900 projects I recommended as part of the package. These projects will benefit all regions of the Commonwealth, both rural and urban, and will help provide jobs for thousands of Virginians in desperate need of work without raising taxes.”

The governor’s transportation funding package included $1.8 billion in Capital Project Revenue (CPR) Bonds, $1.1 billion of Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle (GARVEE) Bonds, and $283 million for the capitalization of the Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank funds (VTIB).

The CPR Bonds will be issued over the next three years, with $600 million in Fiscal Years 2011-2013. The GARVEE Bonds will also be issued over three years as follows:
• $623 million in FY 2012
• $242 million in FY 2013
• $242 million in FY 2014

These additional funds have been programmed in the SYIP to projects identified on the illustrative list provided in January. The draft SYIP consists of a construction program totaling $10.4 billion, with $8.1 billion for VDOT and $2.3 billion for the Department of Rail and Public Transportation. This SYIP not only funds major interstate, public-private, and mass transit projects, but for the first time in several years, it also addresses needs on the primary, secondary, and urban systems.

As a result of the governor’s transportation package, more than $3 billion in additional funding has been provided in this year’s SYIP to accelerate and advance many phases of the projects included on the governor’s illustrative list. Examples of projects include:

• Critical interstate projects, such as:
o Widening I-66 from Gainsville to Haymarket and the Mark Center Ramp in the Northern Virginia District
o Phase II of the Route 581 Valley View Interchange and the I-81 Exit 150 Connector Road in the Salem District
o Widening I-64 from Route 288 to Route 623 in the Richmond District
o Improving the I-64 Exit 91 Interchange and Bridge and modifying the I-81 Exit 310 Interchange in the Staunton District

• Numerous projects on the primary system, such as:
o The Route 1/123 Interchange, relocating and widening Route 7 and Belmont Ridge Road, and the Sycolin Road Overpass in the Northern Virginia District
o Reconstructing Route 17 in the Fredericksburg District
o Odd Fellows Road and Route 501 passing lanes in the Lynchburg District
o Route 58 Corridor Development in the Bristol and Salem districts
o Replacing the Route 360 Bridge and widening Route 10 in the Richmond District

• Much-needed and long-sought urban and secondary project phases, such as:
o Replacing the Lesner Bridge, widening Lynnhaven Parkway, and improvements to Holland Road and Witch Duck Road in the Hampton Roads District
o The Route 460 Southgate Avenue Intersection, improvements to the Route 779 Interchange and Bridge over Tinker Creek, and reconstruction of Route 687 in the Salem District
o Bridge replacements on Route 759, 761 and 921 and Erickson Avenue in the Staunton District
o Replacing the bridge on Route 670 in Washington County and improving Route 11 Lee Highway in the Bristol District
o Widening Route 711 Huguenot Trail in the Richmond District

Approximately $1.4 billion has also been provided for major public-private transportation projects, including the Downtown Tunnel/Midtown Tunnel/Martin Luther King Freeway Extension, I-95 HOT Lanes, the Route 460 Corridor Improvement Project and the Coalfields Expressway. This investment can potentially leverage an addition $4 billion in resources from the private sector.

Rail and transit projects throughout Virginia will also benefit from the increased funding provided this year. Examples of projects programmed in the SYIP include:
• Improvements to Norfolk Southern infrastructure along the I-81 Crescent Corridor
• Construction of the Kilby Support Yard
• Replacing Virginia Railway Express railcars and extending the third track to Spotsylvania
• Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority state of good repair purchases
• Facility construction and improvements in Arlington, Blacksburg, Farmville, Loudoun, Lynchburg and Purcellville
• Bus replacements for transit operators all throughout the Commonwealth

“There is no better time to start getting transportation in Virginia moving again,” said Sean T. Connaughton, secretary of transportation. “VDOT is seeing construction bids coming in significantly under estimates and interest rates are at near historic lows. Virginians all across the Commonwealth can expect to see construction on an unprecedented scale over the next three years.”

The Commonwealth Transportation Board is expected to adopt the final 2012-2017 Six-Year Improvement Program in June.

Information on the public hearings to gather input on the program can be found at http://www.virginiadot.org/newsroom/statewide/2011/commonwealth_seeks_input_on51698.asp

To view the draft SYIP, visit http://syip.virginiadot.org

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thank you Governor McDonnell!

Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of Governor Bob McDonnell


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 18, 2010


Contact: Jeff Caldwell
Phone: (804) 225-4260
E-mail: Jeff.Caldwell@Governor.Virginia.Gov


Governor McDonnell Signs Historic Transportation Investment Legislation
Legislation Creates Framework to Invest Nearly $4 Billion in Roads, Rail and Transit over Next Three Years, Without a Tax Increase
Will Provide Funding for More Than 900 Projects; Make Lasting Reforms to VDOT Policies and Programs

CHESTER – At an early afternoon event held on the site of the currently under-construction Meadowville Interchange on I-295 in Chester, Governor Bob McDonnell signed into law today the most significant investment in the Commonwealth’s transportation system in a generation. The legislation, HB2527 and SB1446, sponsored by Speaker Bill Howell (R-Stafford) and Senators Chuck Colgan (D-Manassas) and William Wampler (R-Bristol), creates a framework to invest nearly $4 billion into Virginia’s road, rail and transit networks, and fund more than 900 projects, over the next three years without raising taxes. The Meadowville Interchange is one of the 900 projects receiving funding from the legislation.

Speaking about the transportation legislation, Governor McDonnell noted, “It has been over 20 years since we have made a major investment in our transportation system. For far too long Virginians sat stuck in traffic while partisan politics put the brakes on progress. This year we put partisanship aside and recognized that for Virginia to retain its status as the friendliest state in the nation for business, we must invest in transportation and help the private sector create much-needed jobs in all parts of the Commonwealth. This common-sense legislation takes advantage of previously authorized and innovative new financing mechanisms at a time when interest rates and construction costs are at near historic lows and Virginians are in dire need of jobs. We are putting billions into our roads without a tax increase.”

The governor continued, “All regions of the Commonwealth will benefit from 900 projects that will be funded by this legislation. They include improvements to bridges and rural roads in Southwest Virginia, new capacity and congestion relief in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, and rail and transit improvements throughout Virginia. A recent report by Chmura Economics shows that construction of the 900 projects will grow the Virginia economy by over $13 billion and support an additional 100,000 jobs. This transportation legislation that we are signing today is a bipartisan achievement that will benefit Virginians in every corner of the Commonwealth.”

The following projects are examples of the nearly 900 that will be funded by this program:

• Widening of I-66 from Gainesville to Haymarket and the installation of an active traffic management system on I-66 to dynamically control lanes to reduce congestion
• Major interchange improvements on I-64, I-81 and I-95, in Frederick, Augusta, Stafford, and Louisa Counties
• Widening Route 7 in Loudoun County
• Rebuilding the Route 460 Southgate Avenue intersection in Montgomery County
• Widening Lynnhaven Parkway, Holland Road and Witch Duck Road in Virginia Beach, as well as replacing the Lesner Bridge
• Investments in Washington Metro, Hampton Roads Light rail, and other transit providers, including VRE to extend to Spotsylvania County.
• Several Route 58 Corridor projects
• Advancing PPTA projects such as the widening of Dominion Boulevard in Chesapeake; the constructing of a new tube for the Midtown Tunnel between Norfolk and Portsmouth; advancing the HOV/HOT lanes on I95 in Northern Virginia; and construction of a new Route 460 from Suffolk to Petersburg

Following the ceremony, Senator Chuck Colgan, Democratic President pro tempore of the State Senate, said, “I applaud Governor McDonnell for taking vital steps toward addressing the Commonwealth’s transportation crisis. The reforms signed into law today, combined with this infusion of funding and the governor’s work on transportation over the last year will have a lasting impact in beginning to address these challenges.”

Delegate Glenn Oder commented, “From Hampton Roads to the Cumberland Gap, and from Northern Virginia to Danville, Virginians have faced deteriorating roads, increasing congestion, and challenges with access to goods and services because we have been unable to pass a comprehensive transportation plan that invests in our roads, rails and public transportation systems, and because our government bureaucracy has hindered the efficient use of available resources for transportation. This year, we worked across the aisle to usher in a new era for transportation that better manages our transportation funding and makes VDOT more efficient and responsive to the needs of our citizens.”

Jeff Southard, executive vice president of the Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance said, “Virginia’s transportation system is finally receiving the significant investment that will not only improve the travel experience for the millions who depend upon Virginia’s roads and transit systems each day, but it will support much-needed jobs for construction professionals throughout the Commonwealth. The transportation construction industry is a major economic driver and provider of employment in Virginia that has struggled because we have neglected our responsibility to invest in the Commonwealth’s infrastructure for so long. The legislation signed today will help Virginia’s economy to once again thrive.”

The legislation, which passed with the broad bipartisan support of Democrats and Republicans in both bodies of the General Assembly, uses several financing mechanisms that will enable the Commonwealth to take advantage of historically low interest rates on bonds and construction bids that are coming in well below project estimates.

The legislation:

• Accelerates the issuance of $200 million of Capital Project Revenue Bonds authorized by the General Assembly in 2007 during fiscal year 2012 and $300 million in fiscal year 2013, thereby enabling VDOT to issue $1.8 billion in bonds over the next three years
• Authorizes the issuance of $1.1 billion in federally backed Direct GARVEE Bonds to better leverage the Commonwealth’s annual federal allocation and support the construction of major congestion reducing projects throughout Virginia
• Creates a new Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank, initially funded with $283 million from the fiscal year 2010 surplus and savings from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) performance audit, to make low-interest loans and grants to localities, transportation authorities and private-sector partners for transportation projects. The administration aims to put $1 billion into the bank through a number of mechanisms over the next three years.

Governor McDonnell also signed several pieces of legislation designed to create new efficiencies and reduce the costs of VDOT’s policies and programs.

Included in the reform legislation is a measure to allow use of inmate labor at the Commonwealth’s rest areas, which will reduce the cost of maintaining and operating these vital facilities.

Other measures include:

• Increasing the initial contract term for professional services
• Increasing the contract award limit for the VDOT commissioner
• Enabling the VDOT commissioner to dispose of surplus right of way without the prior approval of the Commonwealth Transportation Board
• Allowing VDOT to submit one comprehensive annual report
• Repealing several outdated laws and regulations

Transportation Legislation Signed Today:

HB2527 (Howell)/SB1446 (Wampler/Colgan) – Omnibus Transportation Funding Bill

• Authorizes the acceleration of $1.8 billion in previously approved Capital Project Revenue Bonds
• Authorizes the issuance of $1.1 billion in federally backed Direct GARVEE Bonds
• Creates the new Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank
• Increases the project limit from $1 million to $10 million and the programmatic limit from $50 million to $200 million in VDOT’s Revenue Sharing Program
• Creates the Intercity Passenger Rail Capital and Operating Fund

HB1825 (Oder)/SB1005 (Watkins) – VDOT Commissioner

• Changes the commissioner’s title to “Commissioner of Highways”
• Grants the commissioner more flexibility in structuring his executive staff
• Streamlines the project completion process
• Allows VDOT to submit one annual comprehensive report

HB1957 (Rust)/SB1135 (Wagner) – Powers and Duties of the CTB

• Clarifies that local roads outside of the state secondary system are local responsibilities
• Increases limit on contracts which the commissioner can let without CTB approval
• Provides for updating the Statewide Transportation Plan every 4 years
• Repeals outdated code sections relating to the CTB

HB2233 (Anderson)/SB1004 (Watkins) – Transportation Agency Efficiencies and Cost Recoveries

• Exempts VDOT and DRPT from remote digital land record access fees
• Conforms the Code of Virginia to the Appropriations Act relating regarding maintenance payments to localities
• Clarifies payback provision statutes for when a locality cancels a project

HB2040 (Anderson)/SB1109 (Hanger) – Inmate Labor

• Authorizes the use of inmate labor at the Commonwealth’s rest areas to reduce the costs associated with maintaining and operating these vital facilities

SB1126 (Stosch) – Streamlines Procurement Process

• Streamlines the procurement process for environmental, location and design, and inspection work by increasing the initial contract period for term contracts


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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

34 Jobs? Really?

This is the sound of citizens having had enough.

Here's the economic record of this Board:

1st in Virginia in foreclosure rate.

1st in our region in Commercial Vacancy rates (by a factor of 2).

No Economic Development chief for 9 months.

A BPOL tax that businesses can't stand.

Lowest weekly wages in our region.

And you tell me tax hikes had nothing to do with it? Sorry, I'm a man of faith but I'm not buyin'.

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Ouch.

Tell me the tax hikes had nothing to do with this. Spotsy now leads our region in commercial vacancy rates, with twice the vacancy rate as the #2 locality.

We need new leadership.

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Thursday, April 7, 2011

BOLLING CALLS ON GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO ADOPT BIPARTISAN REDISTRICTING PLANS

Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Lieutenant Governor


For Immediate Release:
April 7, 2011

Contact: Ibbie Hedrick
Phone: 804-786-2078
Cell: 804-677-0009
Email: Ibbie.Hedrick@ltgov.virginia.gov



RICHMOND – Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling today issued the following statement encouraging the General Assembly to adopt bipartisan House and Senate redistricting plans and strongly consider recommendations by the Independent Bipartisan Advisory Commission on Redistricting:

“The redistricting process is never an easy one. Under the best of circumstances the process can devolve into personal political preservation and partisan gerrymandering. Too often the result is the manipulation of legislative districts to ensure incumbent protection or maximize political advantage, while the citizens’ best interests fall by the wayside. Fortunately, there is a better way.

“Earlier this year, Governor McDonnell appointed the Independent Bipartisan Advisory Commission on Redistricting to recommend prospective legislative districts to the General Assembly. The Commission’s charge was clear – to draft legislative districts which are compact, contiguous and have a common interest without regard to potential political advantage. The Commission was composed of visible Republicans and Democrats, as well as respected educational and business leaders. The Commission has now completed its work and produced a product worthy of support.

“I have long supported the establishment of a bipartisan redistricting process in Virginia, as have most members of the Senate. While the General Assembly has not seen fit to approve such legislation, this year they have an historic opportunity to move this objective forward by embracing the recommendations of the Commission and I encourage them to do so.

“These recommendations should be embraced by Republicans and Democrats alike. In properly drawn districts, both parties will have a fair chance to compete and the best interests of citizens will be placed above the self interest of politicians. That is what the redistricting process should be about.
“Regardless of which specific House and Senate redistricting proposal is approved by the General Assembly, the plan must have broad bipartisan support in order to instill confidence that the process has generated a fair and reasonable product. While the current House plan has received strong bipartisan support in committee and the full House with over 90% of the members voting for the plan, the Senate leadership’s plan has been derided as the epitome of partisan gerrymandering by Republicans and independent observers alike.

“If either house of the General Assembly fails to produce a redistricting plan that has widespread bipartisan support, it is my hope that Governor McDonnell will reject those plans and substitute them with the recommendations put forth by the Independent Bipartisan Advisory Commission on Redistricting.”

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Statement of the Spotsylvania Republican Committee on the April 5 tax vote

The Spotsylvania Republicans are deeply disappointed at the Board of Supervisors’ decision to reject tax relief for the citizens of this county. Both the action and the timing are highly troubling. The refusal to reverse last year's mistake – and denying the taxpayers their first tax cut in 36 years in the process – sent exactly the wrong message to taxpayers, investors, and business in the county and the region. The opportunity was there to show that Spotsylvania was the place to live, work, and invest, and the Democrat majority on the Board simply blew it.

Nearly as frustrating is the sleight of hand that went into this vote. The 83 cent budget submitted by County Administrator Doug Barnes was a lesson in diversion and distraction. With nearly $7 million in budget surplus available, a 83 cent rate could very well have been achieved with cuts. At the least, areas other the public safety or education could have been considered first. Instead, Mr. Barnes submitted a
budget that hit the vital and visible first, rather than last. It looked more like it was an attempt to safeguard spending in county government – at a time when Spotsylvania homeowners and businesses are suffering in record numbers – rather than a serious attempt at budgetary discipline.

Meanwhile, we could not help but notice that the Board majority took a vote on the tax rate in April 5, running afoul of their own schedule, which set the vote for April 12. Were they afraid of how taxpayers would react on the 12th? Do they so lack the courage of their convictions that they preferred doing this a week early, in "cloak-and-dagger" fashion, in the hope no one noticed? They can rest assured we will not allow that to happen.

We should note that this was the action of the Board majority, not the entire Board. Thus we also wish to thank Jerry Logan and T.C. Waddy for refusing to go along with this and standing with the taxpayers. To these two Supervisors who recognized the need for tax relief – and to those who thumbed there noses at their constituents’ hardships – our message is simple: We know who stood up for the taxpayer and who
did not, and we’ll remember in November.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Statement of Chairman Steve Thomas on the Committee of 500 forum

For Immediate Release
Contact: Steven Thomas
703-819-0127
Sgt1997@gmail.com

Statement of Spotsylvania GOP Chairman on the Committee of 500 Forum

While we respect the attempt to bring the public together in a forum, the Committee of 500 gathering Sunday was a disappointment. Our disappointment stems from the presentations, including one espousing the merits of the local government controlling the development process rather than allowing free market economic forces to guide it, while protecting property rights. Another presented the need for the General Assembly to provide more revenues to the local governments or for the local government to find new ways to raise the revenues. Or better put, have the taxpayers pay more in taxes at a local and state level.

We had thought that the statism espoused by the speakers and C-500 Board members was discredited with the failure of the Democratically-controlled Congress and Administration. But this group- many of which actually supported and endorsed Obama, including C-500 Chair Christine Lynch and Chancellor supervisor Hap Connors- has sadly become a proxy for the Spotsylvania Democrats.

While each speaker gave reasons why taxes should go up in perpetuity and government should get ever-larger, the voices of many participants- including many Spotsylvania Republicans- seemed to be dismissed in favor of infringement on property rights, runaway government spending, and the seeming “fairfaxization” of Spotsylvania. Even more disappointing was how out of touch some in the room were as to the main challenge of the time- jobs and economic development.

There was no better example of this than the list of groups that were not invited to the narrow echo-chamber. Where were the Spotsylvania Landowners' Assocation? Where was the local Farm Bureau? Where was the local Chamber of Commerce? In fact, those with the greatest stake in the local private economy and on the front lines in job creation were never even notified of this forum, let alone invited to it.

The Spotsylvania Republicans will continue to focus on economic development by seeking industries that would add to the employment base to the county and offer current residents the opportunity to work locally. We will resist the growth of taxes and government as the priorities that we believe most Spotsylvanians share with us.

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Dem Supervisors vote early to defeat tax cut

Stunning, just stunning. Not just the lack of fiscal discipline, but also the intellectual dishonesty of the debate and the cowardly rescheduling of the vote to avoid voter reaction.

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Billing calls for defeat of Dems' Senate redistricting plan

Senate Redistricting Plan Should Be Rejected
By Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling

The General Assembly will reconvene today to begin a Special Session on redistricting. Over the next few days, the Senate and House of Delegates will adopt plans to redraw Virginia’s congressional and legislative district boundaries.

The redistricting process is never an easy one. It is an “every man for himself” atmosphere as legislators seek to protect their districts and political careers. The process almost always devolves into blatant political gerrymandering, as the majority party seeks to obtain an advantage in future elections.

The current process of drawing legislative and congressional district boundaries is broken and needs to be replaced. That’s why I have supported a bipartisan redistricting process where legislative districts are based on a sincere effort to achieve objective criteria such as compactness, contiguousness and common interest.

In my role as Lieutenant Governor, I also serve as President of the Senate of Virginia. Because of this, I am more directly involved in the activities of the Senate and I tend to more closely monitor issues pending before the Senate. That has been the case with the pending issue of redistricting.

Last week, Senate Democrats, who currently hold a majority in the Senate, unveiled their plan for redrawing Virginia’s 40 State Senate districts. While I expected the Democrats plan to be based on political self preservation, they exceeded my wildest expectations. Their plan may be the most blatant example of political gerrymandering in recent Virginia political history.

The plan introduced by Senate Democrats is an illogical and indefensible proposal that is designed to protect incumbent Democrats, weaken marginal Republican districts, place incumbent Republican Senators in the same district whenever possible, and draw new Senate districts in Northern Virginia that give Democrats the best possible opportunity of winning these seats.

The Democrats plan violates every acceptable principle of redistricting. Their plan unnecessarily and inappropriately divides political subdivisions and results in districts that are impossible to comprehend. For example, the Democrats plan divides 34 counties, 10 cities and 18 towns, and it includes three districts that are contiguous only by water.

I realize that political gerrymandering has long been a part of the redistricting process, but that doesn’t make it right. Even legally permissible gerrymandering can be carried to such an extreme that it offends the sensibilities and abuses the public trust.

That is exactly what the plan proposed by Senate Democrats does. They have completely discarded the best interests of citizens and replaced it with a blatant attempt to achieve the greatest possible partisan political advantage.

I have no doubt that the Democrat majority in the Senate of Virginia will pass their redistricting plan without regard to legitimate objections that will be raised by Republican Senators. However, once this plan is approved by the General Assembly it must also be reviewed by the Governor and that’s where the real battle will begin.

Later this week, an Independent Bipartisan Redistricting Commission that was appointed by Governor McDonnell in January will issue its recommendations for redrawing Virginia’s congressional and legislative district boundaries.

Governor McDonnell appointed this Commission in the hope of producing redistricting alternatives that are based on objective criteria of compactness, contiguousness and common interest, rather than raw political advantage.

I look forward to receiving and reviewing the Commission’s recommendations. It is hard to imagine a scenario in which the Commission’s recommendations would not be preferable to those advanced by Senate Democrats.

Ultimately, Governor McDonnell will have an opportunity to offer amendments to the redistricting plans that are adopted by the General Assembly or veto these plans. I look forward to working with the Governor to ensure that legislative districts are drawn with the best interests of citizens in mind.

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