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Proposal takes on state's transportation needs

Date published: 1/17/2013

Gov. Bob McDonnell has proposed a bold and forward-looking transportation plan that will begin to address Virginia's transportation woes. This program generates $3.1 billion in new revenue over five years to invest in Virginia's aging infrastructure. Developing our infrastructure is critical to the commonwealth's continued economic development and growth.

Under this plan, the gas tax is eliminated and replaced with a 0.8 percent increase in the sales tax. Some have concerns with letting go of the gas tax, but it's time. With traditional gas vehicles becoming increasingly more efficient and clean fuel vehicles making up a larger percentage of the market each year, our gas tax revenues are decreasing and continually leaving transportation funding needs short.

Meanwhile, sales tax revenues continue to climb. Replacing a tax that is decreasing in value (the gas tax) with an equal tax that is increasing in value as our economy grows (the sales tax) is a smart move that will result in significant and much-needed funding for transportation for years to come.

Out-of-state travelers coming through Virginia who previously paid tax on gas, will now pay slightly more on all other goods--convenience-store items when they stop to purchase gas, on hotel rooms, tourist attractions, and more. Initial estimates show an even exchange the first year but positive gains in revenue each year thereafter.

Overall, this is a serious proposal to finally address transportation in Virginia, which is something that is very important to the people of the Fredericksburg region. It is much needed and the time to do it is now--before the problem gets worse.

Bill Howell of Stafford County serves as speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates.