HJR 640: Joint Subcommittee to Study Options to Provide a Long-Term
Funding Source to Clean Up Virginia's Polluted Waters, Including the Chesapeake
Bay and its Tributaries
The Joint Subcommittee
to Study Options to Provide a Long-term Funding Source to Clean up Virginia's
Polluted Waters, Including the Chesapeake Bay and its Tributaries (HJR
640 - 2005) held its final meeting on November 14, 2005.
The first part of
the meeting was a public hearing and the following citizens spoke:
- James G. Byrne
- Wilmer N. Stoneman,
- Katie Kyger Frazier
- Charles Horn
- Anne Jennings
- John Tippett
- Mathew Logan
- Hobey Bauhan
- Jim Finn
- Colby Trow
- Jeannette McKittrick
- Bill Street
- Mike Toalson
- Chris Pomeroy
- Denise Thompson.
The public hearing
was followed by a work session of the joint subcommittee. Each member
of the joint subcommittee supported additional funding for cleanup of
stated that leveraging low-interest loans could be one element of a financing
plan for the cleanup of Virginia's waters. He also stated that cleanup
of nonpoint sources of pollution is like a capital construction project
because the cleanup of nonpoint sources of pollution will help bring back
certain industries to the Commonwealth.
Delegate Cox stated
that cleanup of Virginia's waters is a core responsibility of government
that is rooted in the Constitution of Virginia. He indicated that cleanup
of Virginia's waters should be paid from existing general fund revenues
and that the Commonwealth must provide additional funds to clean up Virginia's
stated that all Virginians should share in the responsibility for cleanup
of Virginia's waters and that any funding proposal should reflect this
mentioned two potential sources of revenue for cleanup of Virginia's waters.
The Commonwealth could dedicate excess recordation tax revenues for cleanup
purposes. In addition, the Commonwealth could impose a tax on certain
capital gains realized from the sale of real estate. The tax could be
imposed on a sliding scale depending on the holding period for the real
estate and the amount of gain.
explained that his first preference for funding cleanup of Virginia's
waters would be to use existing general fund revenues, to the extent feasible.
He stated, however, that a new fee on electric utility use may also be
needed in order to provide a long-term funding source that will generate
sufficient and predictable revenues for cleanup of Virginia's waters.
The Governor's Natural Resources Funding Commission (2003) estimated that
a $1 per month electric utility fee would generate approximately $37.6
million on an annual basis.
Senator Hawkins emphasized
that existing general fund revenues are not a reliable source of funding
for cleanup of Virginia's waters because of the ebb and flow of the economy.
He suggested that in economic downturns there will be little funding available
for water cleanup. He stated that the source of funding for cleanup should
be a new, broad-based charge that is imposed fairly on all citizens of
the Commonwealth. Senator Hawkins expressed concern with issuing additional
debt for cleanup purposes without establishing a new, dedicated charge
for payment of the debt service.
reiterated that the Commonwealth cannot rely upon a volatile source of
revenue for cleanup of Virginia's waters. He believes that existing general
fund revenues were unreliable. He feared that in a tight economy cleanup
of Virginia's waters could be a priority that would not be funded. He
also expressed concern with issuing debt for nonpoint sources of pollution
where the debt financing did not result in a long-term capital asset.
He noted that Virginia's debt capacity is finite; therefore, new charges
or other sources of new revenue would be needed to pay for cleanup of
stated that new sources of revenue may be needed to pay for cleanup of
The Hon. Vincent
F. Callahan, Jr.
Marty Farber, David
Rosenberg, and Mark Vucci