The First Step Toward Virginia's "Road to the Future"
- Feb 4, 2013 | Gail Cole
At the end of last week, the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate both passed an amended version of Governor Bob McDonnell’s (R) transportation bill, known as the Road to the Future.
Among other things, HB 2313 would do the following:
- Raise the state sales and use tax from 4% to 4.8%;
- Eliminate the tax on motor fuels, except for diesel fuel;
- Raise registration fees for vehicles and trailers;
- Establish “procedures for the collection of the state sales and use tax from remote sellers for sales made in the Commonwealth, contingent upon the federal government passing legislation authorizing such collection.”
Not all legislators want to build this road to the future. Senator J. Chapman Peterson (D-Fairfax) notes that his constituents would face “a surcharge on all their consumer goods, just for living in that part of the state.” He was referring to the 0.7% “sales tax increase in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia to fund transportation projects there.” His opinion? “I don’t see the fairness in that, so I voted no.”
The bill now awaits the governor’s signature.
Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell (R) has proposed a transportation plan that would eliminate the state's gas tax and increase the general sales tax. "The Virginia's Road to the Future" package faces a long journey from his desk to the street, but it's on its way; last week it was approved 14 to 8 by the House of Delegates' Finance Committee, after minimal debate.
The governor's plan would raise the state sales tax from 4 percent to 4.8 percent. He estimates that would raise $3.1 billion over five years -- money that would go towards improving roads, transit, and rail throughout Virginia. Additional revenue would be generated by increased vehicle-registration fees and an annual charge for drivers of cars with alternative fuels (electric and hybrid). It is not yet known whether existing tolls on Interstate 95 would remain in place or be removed under the proposed plan.
The bill has bipartisan support but is not unanimously backed by Republicans. Delegate Ben L. Cline (R-Rockbridge), chairman of the Conservative Caucus, said he could not vote for the bill because his concerns have not been addressed. However, he added, "I am always hopeful that my concerns can be addressed." (The Washington Post).
In a statement released by his office, Gov. McDonnell said he was pleased his transportation package is being advanced. He said his plan "will generate the largest infusion of funding for Virginia's transportation system in more than 25 years, and help create a safe, efficient and reliable transportation system throughout the Commonwealth." He urged "the full House of Delegates and Senate to pass this bill and keep Virginia moving."
The governor's plan will be taken up by the Senate Finance Committee later this week, and if approved, it will face a full vote in both the House of Delegates and the Senate.
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