SB 1106 (Newman) and HB 2302 (Adams, L), as introduced, were similar to budget language in the Governor’s introduced budget regarding the Transportation Partnership Opportunity Fund (TPOF). The introduced bills required the Governor to include in the Budget Bill an appropriation of up to $200 million, limited to $100 million each year, from the Commonwealth Transportation Fund (CTF) to maintain a minimum available balance of $300 million in the TPOF. The bill would also change the types of projects eligible for TPOF funding by including projects that enhance the economic development opportunities of the Commonwealth’s transportation programs.
VACo opposed the initial bills because by diverting funds from the Commonwealth Transportation Fund, the funds would not go through the proper funding formula and the result would mean that localities would receive less money for maintenance, construction, SMART SCALE and transit programs across the board. This would have effectively reduced total transportation funding across the six-year transportation improvement plan by $600 million.
Since their introduction, SB 1106 and HB 2302 have been amended significantly to address VACo member concerns. As previously noted, the bills removed language directing the Governor to appropriate funds to the TPOF and each chamber added differing transparency and reporting requirements for the use of TPOF funds. This would lead SB 1106 and HB 2302 to head to a conference committee where the differences between the two pieces of legislation were worked out.
The conference report contained various parts of both the Senate and House versions that passed their respective chambers. The conference report retained language from the House substitute that any transfer of funds from the TPOF over $5 million must be reported to the Chairs of the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee and the House Appropriations Committee. Further, this reporting must include details on where the funds are going, what they are used for and other requirements outlined in the conference report. Language retained in the conference report from the Senate substitute directs that any transfer from the TPOF that is more than $35 million shall be submitted for review to the MEI Project Approval Commission and further includes details regarding the review process. New language that was included in the conference report highlighted that this legislation should in no way be construed to authorize the use of eminent domain by where it is already prohibited. Lastly, new language was also included to make sure that no project undertaken by TPOF funding will be used exclusively for economic development purposes. This is to ensure that this funding is to be used solely for transportation projects across the Commonwealth.
VACo thanks Senator Newman and Delegate Adams for working with the various stakeholders and hearing our concerns. The bills have traveled far. The transparency language coupled with the various reporting requirements for use of the TPOF funds is a major step in the right direction, and VACo thanks all involved for these changes. The conference report was passed by both chambers and is now headed to the Governor. VACo currently has no position on either SB 1106 or HB 2302.
VACo Contact: James Hutzler