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Posted at 10:25 AM ET, 12/ 2/2010

Va. mulls transportation shortfall

By Derek Kravitz

Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) is considering a host of options to help cover a massive shortfall in state transportation funding, including a small sales tax, tolls and the use of toll credits, according to state House and Senate Republicans.

But a long-debated increase to Virginia's gas tax is not among them and any comprehensive transportation funding plan is at least a year away, Republicans said Thursday morning at a forum held by the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance.
Estimates are that the state will need $100 billion in additional transportation funding over the next 20 years.

Democrats in attendance hammered McDonnell's proposal to privatize Virginia's 76-year-old monopoly on the sale of hard liquor, which has faced significant bipartisan resistance. In October, McDonnell (R) reversed course and opted not to hold a special legislative session this fall on the plan, which would replace Virginia's 332 state-run liquor stores with private retailers and allow outsiders to sell liquor wholesale.

"The first worst transportation funding idea I've ever heard of was the car tax," said Virginia Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax), who used a few choice expletives during his remarks. "The second worst was the idea to privatize the [expletive] ABC stores."

At the forum at the Center for Innovative Technology building in Herndon, Saslaw and other Democrats pushed legislators to revisit raising Virginia's 17.5 cent-per-gallon gas tax, noting that the District and Maryland have higher rates and North Carolina charges nearly 32 cents per gallon.

But Republicans said such a tax hike is not likely to see serious discussion in 2011. Del. Joe T. May (R-Loudoun), chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said Virginians would ultimately have to pay for roads "much like you pay your utility bill," and Del. Thomas Davis Rust (R-Fairfax), a member of the House Transportation Committee and a self-proclaimed participant in a GOP-led panel looking at transportation funding, predicted the governor would propose a number of revenue-generating measures but that "it could take a year until we get it all figured out."

By Derek Kravitz  | December 2, 2010; 10:25 AM ET
Categories:  Virginia  
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Maybe if mcdonnell didn't give all those massive tax breaks and incentives to his big corporate friends, regular virginian taxpayer folks wouldn't be getting stuck for the bill. Tax breaks for corporations might make virginia look "business friendly", but crumbling roads and over taxes residents will soon start chasing those businesses away.

Posted by: MarilynManson | December 2, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

They need to find a way to tax the Marylanders who ruin Virginia roads in the first place.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | December 2, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

"They need to find a way to tax the Marylanders who ruin Virginia roads in the first place." No Marylander wants to get anywhere near VA during rush hour or on weekends. It's all you guys ... I avoid the stores, theatres, restaurants in VA because of your traffic. Look at the tags during rush hour and see how many are MD.

Posted by: pejochum | December 2, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Face it McDonnell, you're going to have to raise taxes, or create a new one. The money won't just appear.

Posted by: jckdoors | December 2, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Could somebody please explain to me why raising the gas tax is off the table? Seems like a logical solution to me.

Also, why the heck don't we sell off the ABC stores? I know it won't raise enough to make up the budget shortfall, but at the same time, why the heck is the Commonwealth of Virginia in the liquor sales business, anyway? That just makes no sense to me.

Posted by: afsljafweljkjlfe | December 2, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

They need to find a way to tax the Marylanders who ruin Virginia roads in the first place.

Posted by: getjiggly1

Did you think that up all by yourself? Wow! what a smart guy you are?

It isn't Marylanders who have ruined your roads, pal. It's (1) the voters who keep electing Republicans who refuse to raise the necessary tax revenue and (2) the idiot road opponents who managed to block road construction in NOVA.

Look at Richmond. They have actually excess highway capacity while NOVA gets nothing but provately-owned tolls roads, HOT lanes and HOV for a few.

Richmond built the I-295 bypass and Route 288 within a 5 year period; Route 895 connecting I-95 and the RIC Airport area opened in 2007.

Meanwhile, NOVA indulges road opponents and spends over a decade arguing about the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and the Springfield Interchange and how to widen I-66 in only one direction. The Fairfax County Parkway was finally completed 25 years after it was started!

All while we in Maryland get OUR roads new built and keep our existing roads from falling apart.

Blaming Marylanders for your situation is pretty silly.

Posted by: ceefer66 | December 2, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

No, the Marylanders didn't ruin the roads themselves, just the shoulders. If you don't like it, stay home.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | December 2, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

NOVA elects about as many republicans as PG county.

Posted by: getjiggly1 | December 2, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Didn't the Post have an editorial that Va's cigarette tax is comparatively low? Raise that for transportation? Also maybe at least a gas tax somehow tied to high ozone days to signal best times for fueling? Possible? Baby steps if that's all these legislators are capable of.

As for ABC store privatization, if it happens, good luck dodging the drunk drivers including the teenagers (underage drinkers prefer liquor-CDC). Most states have the good sense not to make the hard stuff widely available in porous locales like grocery stores but that is what McDonnell's plan calls for. Pharmacies, gas station minimarts....Easy come, easy go --

Posted by: anonymousid | December 2, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

This county spends all our money on teachers salaries and pensions for county employees. They've never seen a spending program the didn't like. And it's basically spend spend spend, and then pat each other on their backs and give each other a raise.

Pathetic! These guys couldn't balance a check book, well enough a county budget!

Vote the bums out!

Posted by: Jaymand | December 2, 2010 9:24 PM | Report abuse

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