Transportation Bill Update
The Virginia Senate has voted for a transportation-funding bill that increases the gas tax, removes most of Governor McDonnell’s proposals, and allows Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads to raise extra revenue.
It now heads to a 10-person conference committee, where lawmakers who don't like it could still make major changes.
The Senate plan, sponsored by Senator Frank Wagner, increases the gas tax to 22.5 cents per gallon, raises the sales tax by .05 percent, allows Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads to impose their own one-percent sales tax, eliminates a proposed hybrid vehicle fee, and raises the vehicle registration fee by $15. Wagner says it also adds a 1% tax on wholesale gas.
"The wholesale increase would be a percentage tax at the rack which obviously it takes into account inflation as the price of the underlying commodity goes up. But it also is directed back to, as close as we can measure, the point of sale so those areas that generate more sales would get more return on investment just as it does with sales tax," says Wagner.
Senator Jill Vogel voted against it, but isn't disappointed that something made it out of that chamber.
"We got a bill and I know that there are warts all over and as a practical matter there a lot of issues that I have with the bill but I feel very strongly that the Senate should have some vehicle."
The consensus is that Virginia will soon run out of transportation construction dollars and that this is the year to act. Wagner contends it will prevent future General Assemblies from having to deal with this problem.