As I mentioned in my previous entry, I have spent a couple of days in Richmond.

The first was last Monday, January 24, for a reception hosted by the Virginia Transit Association.  I was there as Vice President of that organization.  It was well organized and a fair amount of legislators showed up.  As VTA vice president and as Mayor, this is always a good way to communicate concerns to legislators from across the Commonwealth.

The main topic of conversation the night of the twenty fourth revolved around the just released plan for transportation touted by the governor and signed on to by members of both parties.  The question centered on how much of that budget was dedicated to Mass Transit and how much in roads.

On Thursday, February 3, 2011 the Virginia Municipal League hosted their legislative day and transportation was also a topic of conversation.  For me, this is where the two visits come together looking at different perspectives.  This bill contains funding prospects for roads and for Mass Transit.  We should always remember that the two should complement and not compete.  As Mayor, I also look at the bill not just for the funding it can bring to our area, but how responsible it for our future budget considerations.

While wearing my Transit hat, I am concerned that very little attention is paid to increasing our commitment to Mass Transit.  Let’s be honest, the real transportation mess exists in Northern Virginia and Tidewater.  As a local representative told me once, we will never build enough roads to solve that problem.  I don’t see where this year’s proposal breaks new ground to address this situation.

All our local legislators expressed concern for the greater transportation bill because of the funding source.  While there is money for the Blacksburg area, the concern they expressed and I share is the money right now is being taken from general fund revenue with the hopes that new sources will be found later.

Of course, if those new sources are not found later, the funding will come from things like schools and other aid including police.  I hope that all four representatives covering Montgomery County will continue to pay very close attention to this.

More on the police funding in my next entry.  I need to thank all our representatives.  They have long, hard days when the legislature is in session.  Senators Ralph Smith and John Edwards and Delegates Dave Nutter and Jim Shuler took time to meet with us and spent the evening with us at supper.  They listened.  Perhaps they did not all agree with our points  but we all felt like we were given a fair hearing on our concerns.