Gas Tax or Higher Tolls? Both Could Become Transportation Funding Options in Virginia

Virginia's gas tax is a flat rate tax, but changes could be in the making.

Next year’s Thanksgiving road trip may be a little more expensive as Virginia officials grapple with how to adequately fund Virginia’s growing transportation infrastructure needs.

Gov. Bob McDonnell said earlier this month that raising Virginia’s gas tax, tying it to inflation or otherwise adjusting it is not off the table.

“I’m looking at a range of things,” McDonnell told reporters in Richmond. “I can tell you that every other major tax in Virginia—the sales tax, the corporate income tax, and the [personal] income tax—all fluctuate with economic activity because they’re a percentage. ... We’re looking at whether or not ... it should fluctuate with economic activity, like every other tax in Virginia.”

Right now, Virginia’s state gas tax is set at a flat rate of 17.5 cents per gallon (not including any federal tax). When gasoline prices go up, Virginia does not see any additional revenue—in fact, Virginia sometimes sees a little bit less revenue when commuters cut back on driving due to high prices. 

In the District and in Maryland, the gas tax is 23.5 cents per gallon plus federal tax, also a flat rate. In late 2011, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley proposed applying the state’s sales tax of 6 percent to gasoline purchases, but the proposal didn’t pass.

Ninety-two percent of respondents to a Quinnipiac University poll of Virginia registered voters agreed it is “very important” or “somewhat important” to improve the state’s roads and highways.

Quinnipiac surveyed close to 1,500 registered voters across Virginia in early November.

According to the survey:

  • Voters oppose 57 - 38 percent putting tolls on parts of Interstate 95 in the Commonwealth to pay for road repairs.
  • Given a choice, however, between tolls or a higher gas tax, voters prefer tolls 56 - 32 percent.

The margin of error in the survey was +/- 2.6 percentage points.

Would you prefer more tolls on local highways or would you rather have a gas tax to pay for transportation infrastructure? Tell us in the comments box below!

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Bob Bruhns November 30, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Taxpayers should have paid attention to the double price of the Dulles Rail / Silver Line project. Those costs are coming home to roost, just as we are falling over the edge of the fiscal cliff. http://www.bruhns.us/civic/DullesRail/Dulles-Rail---Silver-Line-overcost-report---Bruhns.pdf And here comes WMATA, looking for $13.1 billion dollars for its deferred maintenance and capital needs. I wonder who will pay for that? WMATA FY2014 Capital Budget Discussion report, November 1, 2012 http://www.wmata.com/about_metro/board_of_directors/board_docs/110112_4BFY2014CapitalBudgetDiscussion.pdf And this WMATA report notes yet another little secret that the news media has not reported: MAP-21 funding has been cut. It had been thought that this money would support massive Tifia loans this year, to help us overpay for the Dulles Rail / Silver Line project. But now, it looks as though there will be less money for that than had been expected. It's very interesting that this story has been covered up since mid-September 2012. You only see it mentioned in a few special interest publications. House Passes Continuing Resolution without MAP-21 Spending Levels AASHTO Journal, September 14, 2012 http://www.aashtojournal.org/Pages/091412HouseCR.aspx House Passes Continuing Resolution without MAP-21 Spending Levels Truckinginfo.com, September 18, 2012 http://www.truckinginfo.com/news/news-detail.asp?news_id=78052


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