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McDonnell Touts Transportation Plan

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was in Herndon Thursday asking for support.

Gov. Bob McDonnell was in Herndon Thursday as part of a statewide tour to urge area business leaders and residents to support his “Virginia’s Road to the Future” transportation plan.

McDonnell said his proposal could help jump start a number of projects in Northern Virginia that have seemed to stall.

The plan has gotten mixed reviews from some state legislators so far this session, but a new poll from Christopher Newport University showed 63 percent of virginia voters support McDonnell's plan, which hinges on doing away with the state’s 17.5 cents per gallon gas tax and increasing the state sales tax from 5 percent to 5.8 percent.

The poll, released Thursday, surveyed 1,015 people across the state on a number of issues, including the governor's plan.

McDonnell’s plan also includes:

  • Keeping the 17.5 cents per gallon gas tax on diesel fuel
  • Increasing the portion of the state’s sales tax that would go directly toward transportation funding from .5 cents to .75 cents over the course of five years.
  • Increase vehicle registration fees by $15.
  • Impose an annual $100 alternative fuel vehicle fee.

McDonnell said if his plan is passed, it would boost a number of transportation projects in Northern Virginia. Among the projects - the Dulles Metrorail extension. it is depending on a larger contribution from the state to get the project  built. Phase 2 will run from Reston's Wiehle Avenue to Dulles International Airport and into Loudoun County.

A number of businesses and organizations across the state have spoken in support of the plan, including Amtrak, the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, the Home Builders Association of Virginia, Northern Virginia Technology Council, the Virginia Association of Realtors and Wawa.

The governor has seen critics from both sides of the aisle: Republicans, many of whom have spoken against any kind of tax hike, and Democrats, who have said they don't want to give more general fund money to transportation over education and other state priorities.

Americans for Tax Reform has issued a statement against the governor's plan.

State Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City), who has introduced an alternative to the governor's plan, has said McDonnell's bill "makes no sense." 

“I don’t think people buying and selling merchandise ought to pay a higher tax based on this out of state stress placed on our highways,” Petersen said at a town hall meeting this month in Vienna. “If you’re going to let those people use our highways for free meanwhile you raise taxes on ordinary Virginians, that’s a mistake.”

On Thursday, McDonnell said even after increasing Virginia’s sales tax, it will still be lower than neighboring states and shouldn’t have an impact on sales, McDonnell said. Additionally, people in neighboring states may start coming to Virginia for their gasoline, he said.

McDonnell said the funds dedicated to transportation from the state sales tax wouldn’t be allowed to be moved or used elsewhere, which has been done in the past.

By the middle of next week Virginia’s legislators will begin voting on transportation, McDonnell said; he wants to get something done and see it done this year.  Failling to act could erode Virginia’s ability to compete internationally, he said.

At the governor's Thursday appearance in Herndon, Jim Corcoran, president and CEO of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, said Virginia has a transportation crisis and needs its legislature to come together and pass a plan. 

"It's affecting each and every one of us and the lifestyles that we have here," he said. "Compromise is the art of politics," he said. "We may need to see some compromise on this, but Democrats and Republicans in the House and the Senate need to come together. Compromise is not failure, compromise is getting something done." 

More on McDonnell's "Virginia's Road to the Future" plan: 


• 
• Speak Out: Will McDonnell's Tax Plan Help Virginia?

 

Bob Bruhns January 25, 2013 at 12:48 AM
McDonnell can not be trusted, (1) until he actually admits that we are being double-charged for the Dulles Rail Silver Line project (and that's BEFORE the finance charges are tacked on) and (2) until he actually DOES something about that. Up until now, all he has done is blow smoke. Do a web search on ' The excessive pricing of the Dulles Rail - Silver Line Metrorail project ' and read about the double price. We are being robbed to the tune of $2.5 Billion to $3 Billion dollars for this Metrorail extension, and people need to wake up and force the price down to earth, because our so-called 'leaders' never will.
Ana Ham January 25, 2013 at 12:58 AM
Raise taxes for roads. Where have I heard that before? The biggest con going. They are all the same. Don't fall for it. We will never see a 5.0 sales tax again. It will only keep going up.
Tammi Petrine January 25, 2013 at 04:56 PM
Gov. McDonnell is leaving office soon but not soon enough. His latest hair brained scheme is beyond the dumbest yet. In a last ditch effort to “fund transportation (the #1 problem in the state), Bobby-come-lately has proposed a gruesome “solution” that will result in serious repercussions: Just a few of the guaranteed results of eliminating or reducing gas tax and raising sales tax: • Punishes poor and elderly who do not own vehicles or who drive little; those who can least afford an increased tax should pay for roads they don’t use??? • Encourages excess vehicle use which will clog roads more… What sense does this make? Aren’t we trying to encourage less driving and more public transportation to reduce pollution??? • Invites more organized (and unorganized) crime into our state to smuggle untaxed petroleum products to highly taxed states just as our currently low taxed tobacco products and little regulated gun sales do. Is this a desirable goal and who pays for extra law enforcement to stop it? The first alone makes my blood run cold and I’m sure you can think of many more consequences of yet another abdication of responsible action for fixing the transportation crisis so desperately needed in NOVA, the fiscal breadbasket of Virginia.

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