Along with his colleagues in the majority Republican caucus, Del. Dave Albo (R-42) had strong feelings about what to do with the nearly $1.2 billion budget surplus, as the state General Assembly Session neared completion.
"We wanted to return some of that to the taxpayers, because the tax increase two years ago, in my opinion, was not needed," said Albo, who recently returned to his Springfield office after the conclusion of the Virginia General Assembly's 2005 Session on Feb. 27.
One of the ways Albo hoped the Assembly could use the money was to revoke the county's car tax, a proposal that received approval in the house but couldn't pass the Senate floor.
In the end, the budget surplus was split, with a portion going into a "rainy day" fund, and the rest set aside for transportation issues, of which $35 million will be directed to Northern Virginia, based on its designation as a "congested area."
"I'm disappointed we didn't get to eliminate the car tax," said Albo. "But I think it was a pretty big achievement to take the surplus, put half into a rainy day fund, and to spend the other half on transportation."
THE MONEY for Northern Virginia will help, said Albo, but he disagrees with those who say the money wasn't nearly enough to satisfy the transportation problems in the area.
"The misconception is that Northern Virginia gets ripped off on transportation," he said. "It does not. We get our fair share. We could certainly use more, but we get our fair share."
Albo said he was most proud of several pieces of legislation that he sponsored, which passed both houses and are up for approval by Gov. Mark Warner (D). Among these are several gang-related bills, including HB 1573, which included gang-related activity on the list of activities against which public school administrators may offer punishment.
Albo also said he was proud of a bill, HB 1798, that will require proof of legal residence to receive certain state and local services. It will, he hopes, crack down on the use of these services by illegal aliens.
"It's a financial thing for me. Last year, people were complaining to raise taxes to meet all these 'unmet needs.' I found out state and local governments are spending money on all these people who aren't supposed to be here. In order to take the pressure off the taxpayer, we decided to pass this bill."
One bill that was defeated was the "abuser-fee" bill, which would have levied fines on motorists who commit repeated infractions. The bill would have raised over $120 million for the transportation fund.
"We'll have to bring it back next year. It was improved at every step. That one, we're not giving up on," he said. "It will be part of the solution for the future. Everybody knows you need more money for roads, so you have a choice — you can tax everybody, or you can tax the people who break the laws. That's what we choose."
Albo said he will make an announcement in the near future regarding his plans to seek re-election to the 42nd District seat. A West Springfield High grad, Albo has held the seat since 1993.