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VA Senate Passes Income Tax for Transportation Bill

Proposal would allow localities to impose a 1 percent income tax without voter approval.

The Virginia State Senate has passed a bill that would enable Virginia localities to create a local income tax to fund improvements to transportation infrastructure.

Under the legislation, SB 1313, which is now awaiting review in the House of Delegates, local governments would be allowed to establish an income tax of up to 1 percent without approval from voters.

The bill would affect Fairfax County, as well as Arlington, Loudoun, and Prince William, and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park. 

Current Virginia law dictates a jurisdiction’s residents must approve a local income tax in a referendum. The majority of Virginia localities, like Fairfax County, rely on road maintenance from the state, with the exception of some areas including Arlington County, Henrico County in Richmond and some cities in the Hampton Roads District.

Sen. Mark Herring (D-Herndon, Loudoun) supported the bill, as did Sen. Janet Howell (D-Reston). 

Fairfax Sen. Chap Petersen, who represents Vienna, has been vocal in his opposition to the bill, which passed the senate in a 27-11 vote.

“This bill represents the worst possible deal for the Northern Virginia taxpayer,” Petersen said in a statement.

After Gov. Bob McDonnell’s $3.1 billion transportation funding package failed to the pass the Senate, Petersen worried this new legislation would be deemed the new fix to the state’s ongoing transportation problems.

Sharon Bulova, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, said county staff had briefed her on the bill, but was unsure whether officials would support or consider such a tax should the bill become law.

“This was a surprise to us,” she said. “It was not something we expected to be introduced.”

County officials haven’t explored income tax referenda in the past because voters would not have supported it, she said.

“It’s had a lot of strings attached to it that would ensure its defeat,” she said.

 

   

Tammi Petrine February 11, 2013 at 04:08 PM
How would affected taxpayers be guaranteed that the rate would stay at 1%? Our tolls were supposed to go away and look where we are with that now. In this case, the income tax rate could be easily "modified without referendum" by the very same officials who "represented" us with the terrible/non existent Silver Line financing deal and screwed us with excessive and indefinite tolls. Restonians need more transportation funding for sure but our best interests have not been championed by our elected officials for some years now. With the newly released Metro development plan that calls for many $Billions more, I hate to create a Pandora's Box for any present or future "representative" to open. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. And this is a huge shame because this 1% income tax idea may have been a great idea if past history had been different.... Deals done in the dark without proper research and fiscal integrity are killing our communities and have to stop. A suggestion: Fairfax Co. should require separate planning of complex and costly projects from overworked, Supervisors who may be vulnerable to undo influence. In addition, the county needs to employ some NEW sharp, creative, expert negotiators and problem solvers immune from special interests for this work. Let’s have a referendum on THIS! Past poor planning and pressure from lobbying groups have produced unintended consequences that wreak havoc on constituents.
Gene February 11, 2013 at 05:53 PM
No strings attached, it would appear the money can be used for anything. Worse the ability to repeal it is limited "except that no ordinance levying a local income tax shall be repealed unless and until all debts or other obligations of the county or city to which such revenues are pledged or otherwise committed have been paid or provision made for payment." Give them the ability to get more revenue and I guarantee they will find a need for it. Supported by Howell, want to bet what our delegates think of this? Be careful Virginia there are many reasons for the Northern Viriginia economic boom, lower taxes than California is one and there are other states that would to see some of this business and have much lower tax rates. - Gene

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