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McDonnell Urges Northern Virginia Business Leaders, Residents to Back Transportation Plan

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell tours state Thursday asking for support, says plan could jumpstart several projects in Northern Virginia.

Gov. Bob McDonnell spent Thursday traveling across the state to urge area business leaders and residents to support his “Virginia’s Road to the Future” transportation plan, saying his proposal could help jumpstart 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 a number of transportation projects in Northern Virginia would be jumpstarted. Those projects include the Dulles Metrorail extension, improvements to the interchange at I-66 and Route 28 and widening Route 28 in Prince William County, among others.

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.

What McDonnell looked for Thursday was additional support from area business leaders, Virginia residents and organizations.

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?
• Constituents Focus on Transportation at Del. Rust's Town Hall Meeting



John Strother January 24, 2013 at 11:19 PM
Dam, under this plan, I would be paying about 1 cent more on every dollar in taxes on food and everything else. I would be paying $15.00 more a year for tags and $100.00 more a year for my hybrid car. All this sounds like a pipe dream.
Laura B. January 25, 2013 at 01:19 PM
Penalize those who drive more environmentally-friendly cars? That's crazy. What we need is a much higher gas tax to "jumpstart" those transportation projects.
Holly January 25, 2013 at 01:59 PM
Seems like the people who drive the most should contribute the most to road and transportation improvements...
Greg Brandon January 25, 2013 at 02:08 PM
Gov. McDonnell, you are wrong! It is a basic principle of taxation that "tax revenue from a specific source should be dedicated to a specific purpose only when there is a direct cost-and-benefit link between the tax source and the expenditure, such as use of motor fuel tax for road maintenance." (http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/taxation-principles.html#ixzz2HQopkhu5) This is called hypothecation. There is also a Pigovian aspect to the gas tax. Even Greg Mankiw, advisor to Romney, and "an economist at Harvard and founder of the Pigou Club, argues that . . . [increased] taxes are currently needed on gasoline, due to the negative externalities that accompany gasoline consumption." (http://econblog.aplia.com/2006/10/cheap-gas-hurts.html) Just as I advocate for higher cigarette taxes so as to reduce the chances that adolescents and young adults will become smokers and possible future victims of lung cancer, I believe that our state gas tax should be increased to at least $0.25/gallon, which is well-below the national average of about $0.35/gallon.
Rob Jackson January 25, 2013 at 04:12 PM
Once again too many of us Northern Virginians exhibit our provincialism and ignorance of the rest the state. Down-state Virginians drive much more that we do, with some average VMTs by VDOT district three times as much as we do and have much lower incomes. Then add in the fact their road networks are more than adequate, and we have outstate senators and delegates from both parties not willing to vote for higher gas taxes that would harm their constituents. This is a logical response, but too many of our local legislators don't understand this, including my senator, Barbara Favola. Further, the federal government's decision to push mandatory car mileage much higher means the gas tax is not a reliable source of transportation funding now or in the future. I do think the sales tax ought to apply to gas sales. Our traffic problems stem from the failure of local government to reject rezoning applications that would strain transportation networks. Tim Kaine was absolutely correct when he raised this issue. We need to tie any rezonings to the provision of adequate transportation additions largely paid for by those who benefit from the rezoning as the County is doing with Tysons landowners. They are paying 59.5% of the costs. Apply this policy statewide.
Amrish Pinto (Realtor) January 25, 2013 at 05:51 PM
I am continually impressed by the level of though, coherence, passion, and knowledge of Patch posters. Damn...wish I had something smarter to contribute to this post.
chefgio1 January 25, 2013 at 06:17 PM
Here is a plan mostly administered by Maryland and DC who have co-oped our Republican Gov, McDonnell to believe that this is a good ideal for the future while one of the key fundamental Republican pillar is not to raise taxes. What went wrong. Some questions: Why is this region one of the few in the country, if not the only one, paying for our own roads while others either cut other costs or do without? Get our TAXES back--LET the rest of the state create a McDonnell to pay for their services. Have the Dems in Northern VA become so powerful that the Gov. has no other alternative--and is trembling in his boots? Is this a move by McDonnell to improve his Presidential posture for 2016--Is he planning anything for the upcoming elections for the House and Senate which I see more Important? This article talks to a new polls that 63% approve of the Gov. plan--who are they because I know that no one spoke to me---could it be Virginians that know if they do not support this plan they will have to pay for it from their budgets? Why should we be paying on our backs? Just do not take the Toll Road or use it without paying anything if their is almost full support--they will listen.
Bob Bruhns January 25, 2013 at 08:41 PM
The thing is, we shouldn't demand our tax money back, only to waste it on a double-priced construction project. Go ahead and try to get the money back - but then SPEND IT WISELY. Don't throw it away hand over fist, on a project that costs two times what it should cost. Get the project costs down to earth! Why not do a web search on ' The excessive pricing of the Dulles Rail - Silver Line Metrorail project ' and read about those double prices. Those bloated prices are really going to sting us, now that WMATA is coming around looking for $26 billion for ITS overcharged projects. Speaking of which - let's have a look at the line item prices for WMATA's planned money-pit, shall we? Assuming WMATA doesn't refuse to reveal that information to the people who pay for it all, like MWAA does.
Erica R. Hendry January 25, 2013 at 09:54 PM
We are impressed by the same thing from our commenters. We're thankful to have an engaged, intelligent group of readers! Erica
Greg Brandon January 25, 2013 at 11:10 PM
Excerpts from former Delegate Margi Vanderhye's Connection letter to the editor (http://www.mcleanconnection.com/news/2013/jan/22/getting-back-business/): "The centerpiece of [Gov. McDonnell's] transportation plan is a proposal to eliminate the gas tax and replace it with additional sales tax. The plan diverts general fund revenue that supports education, public health and public safety to transportation, and raises vehicle fees, especially on alternative fuel vehicles. The plan also assumes tax revenue . . . from a bill that has not yet been introduced in Congress [which] [ac]counts for more than one third of the funds in the governor’s plan. "Despite calls for reducing dependency on foreign oil the governor proposes a $100 annual fee for vehicles that are cleaner and use less fuel. Why punish good practices? "Why should we forego a “user fee” gas tax, shared broadly beyond Virginia, and depend primarily instead on a tax that falls squarely on Virginia citizens? "We know that if we are short-changing our own transportation and education needs, we are neither pro-business nor pro-jobs." Increase the gas tax to at $0.25/gallon will still mean we have the lowest in the region. All of those New Yorkers coming down for our cheap guns and cigarettes can still fill-up on a cheap tank of gas.
Amanda Andere January 26, 2013 at 09:14 PM
This plan will shift hundreds of millions of dollars out of the general fund and into transportation over the next several years. Unlike other cuts, this is a permanent loss of funds for schools, public safety, social services, environmental protection, and healthcare. Read more here www.thecommonwealthinstitute.org/2013/01/24/running-on-empty/

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