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New Va. transportation commission can rack up ‘unlimited’ debt, critics say

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Jan. 11, 2014: Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe delivers his inaugural address during ceremonies at the Capitol in Richmond, Va..ap

Taxpayer advocates are saying a new regional transportation commission will be able to rack up limitless debt with little oversight.

If Gov. Terry McAuliffe approves, a 21-member board will decide how $200 million in regional sales and gas taxes will be spent on transit projects in the Tidewater area, according to HB 1253, and SB 513.

The Transportation Accountability Commission, which would start July 1, also would have authority to issue bonds and levy tolls, with little oversight, critics say.

There doesn’t seem to be too many check and balances on how much debt the committee can amass, said Maurice McTigue of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, referring to general-obligation and revenue bonds.

The problem with general-obligation bonds is they count against the bond ratings of all of cities under the commission’s authority, said Reid Greenmum, a member of The Virginia Beach Taxpayer’s Alliance.

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