FUNDING: Va. governor’s plan to abolish state gas tax passes first hurdle

Measure makes it through House committee with three amendments

January 31, 2013

Va. Gov. Robert McDonnell’s transportation plan that would abolish the state’s gas tax in favor of a sales tax increase is off to a good start. The House of Delegates’ Finance Committee approved it 14-8 on Jan. 30 after only an hour’s worth of deliberation. Some Democrats did support the move. Many were expecting the plan’s first step to be more of a battle. The Senate Finance Committee is the next to consider the bold strategy.

“We’ve always known the final bill is going to be what comes out in conference committee,” Speaker William Howell told the Washington Post. “I’m not sure what that will look like.”

McDonnell’s plan also includes increasing vehicle registration fees and adding a $100 annual charge to those who drive an alternative-fuel car. The measure that passed on Jan. 30 had three amendments. One of the amendments specified that owners of hybrids and electric cars would have to pay the $100 fee. Another change called for passenger cars using diesel fuel to receive a refund of the diesel fuel tax.

The third amendment calls on the state to conduct a study on I-95 to see if the route will need to be tolled if the transportation plan is passed.

“It was a tough vote,” state Rep. Matthews James told the Post. “I think at some point you have to put the state above your own region, and when we look at our state, we need to have a start. I consider the bill a start.”