WASHINGTON Jan 22 Scrapping the state gasoline
tax and restructuring transportation financing will allow
Virginia to proceed with hundreds of highway, road, bridge and
transit projects, Governor Bob McDonnell said on Tuesday.
The Republican governor said the overhaul he unveiled two
weeks ago in his state of the state address could raise $1.28
billion more to pay for 158 highway projects and another $1.07
billion in new funds for rail and transit work. Virginia could
proceed with $500 million of existing projects currently at risk
of being delayed by a revenue downturn, he added.
States levy various taxes at the pump to pay for their
transportation programs, which come on top of a federal tax of
18.4 cents per gallon. As cars become more gas efficient, and
drivers turn to alternatives such as electric vehicles, gas
sales are dropping, dragging down those revenues.
McDonnell is seeking to eliminate the state's 17.5
cent-per-gallon gasoline tax and increase the sales tax by 0.8
percent, along with putting more of the existing sales tax
revenue toward transportation and charging additional vehicle
registration fees. He also proposed streamlining the state's
transportation department and basing some transit funding on
At the same time, he is counting on the U.S. Congress
passing a law that would require on-line retailers to remit
sales taxes, which states say will net them millions of dollars.
Members of Congress last month assured a state lawmakers group
they would pass such a bill in 2013.
Virginia's new river of funding could flow toward extending
the area's Metrorail commuter train to Dulles airport, a project
bedeviled by so many delays and political and money fights that
the federal government had to step into mediate, McDonnell said.
He also said he would put the money toward building up train
service to Roanoke and Norfolk, improving the heavily traveled
Interstate 66 and Interstate 95, and replacing bridges and
paving roads statewide.
Virginia's statehouse is seeking improvements to the state's
infrastructure, but not all legislators are on board with
Last week, Republican State Senator John Watkins unveiled
his own proposal to turn to user fees, prohibit tolls on
existing roads without legislative approval, repeal income tax
credits for clean fuel vehicles and eliminate some sales tax
His bill is one of at least eight transportation-related
bills making their way through the legislature, according to the
Washington Post, and Watkins said, "I expect lively debate on
this and my colleagues' proposed solutions to our transportation
Almost every day McDonnell sends out an announcement of
groups supporting his proposal, listing mostly area chambers of
commerce and paving, contractors and building associations.
"Every corner of the commonwealth will reap the benefits of
safer roads, quicker commutes and increased access to public
transportation if this plan is adopted," McDonnell said in a
statement on Tuesday.