Like his hair line, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s tragic transportation bill was passed along party lines in the Virginia House of Delegates’ Finance Committee on Wednesday with a 14-8 vote. Among other things, the bill spells the end of Virginia’s 17.5 cents per gallon gas tax while raising the state sales tax to 5.8% from 5%.
In addition, McDonnell’s transportation bill would increase fees for vehicle registration and sustain the 17.5 cent tax on diesel fuel. McDonnell’s bill would also increase the amount of Virginia’s sales tax that goes towards transportation from 5 cents to 75 cents over the course of five years. Apparently McDonnell also believes in raising taxes like his Democratic counterparts; say it ain’t so!
McDonnell’s transportation bill, however, has more holes than the sun has sunspots and Virginia Sen. Chap Petersen was once again one of the more forceful opponents of McDonnell’s transportation bill.
Petersen said, “Eliminating the gas tax paid by highway users and raising taxes on all other Virginians to pave our roads makes no sense. Indeed, eliminating our traditional road funding because cars are more efficient makes about as much sense as canceling your child’s college fund because tuition keeps rising.” Ouch, someone pull the scolding iron off of McDonnell’s transportation plan!
And just so you know that Sen. Petersen isn’t all talk without the walk, Petersen has offered his own plan, SB 855. In it, Petersen would increase the tax on gas up to 27.5 cents per gallon. According to Sen. Petersen, this tax alone would raise $500 million a year for transportation projects, making it just enough money to overcome Virginia’s chronic and monumental budgetary ‘hiccups’ on transportation projects (will construction on I-95 ever be completed?).
If there is anything innovative or inspiring about McDonnell’s transportation…well, there isn’t. The biggest flaw of McDonnell’s transportation bill is the one pointed out by Sen. Petersen: why pass a bill that attempts to reduce vehicles on the roads by increasing the sales tax? Yes, McDonnell’s bill would raise revenue, hoorah for him. But it WOULDN’T disincentivize unnecessary travel (e.g., co-workers living in the same neighborhood with the same work schedule driving separately to work).
Isn’t the biggest solution to Virginia’s traffic woes to cut down on (wait for it) traffic!