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Northern Virginians Hear Kaine Plan

Looking out into the audience at the Prince William County government center last night, Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said he thought he saw some of the same people who attended his town hall meeting on transportation shortly after he was elected.

Back then, with four sessions of the General Assembly ahead of him, he was seeking ideas on how to bust some of the worst traffic congestion in the nation. After several rushes at that goal, he was back last night for what has become the political equivalent of a Hail Mary pass late in the game.

Comments from the crowd of about 200 in Woodbridge illustrated his problem: Many people struggle with traffic congestion so bad it diminishes their enjoyment of what otherwise would be a pretty good life in Northern Virginia. And many people wouldn't pay to make it better.

In explaining his plan to restore money for transportation spending through tax increases, Kaine said Virginia ranked fifth among states in personal income and 39th in taxes as a percentage of income.

That sounds pretty good, one county resident pointed out: "I like being fifth and 39th."

Hard to argue that one. Others, knowing the proposal includes not only some statewide taxes but also a 1 percent sales tax increase for Northern Virginia, noted that people from outside the region use its roads but don't have to pay the taxes.

A driver from Richmond or North Carolina could come on up and use Route 123 or Route 7 and wouldn't pay the regional sales tax.

Kaine noted that the best way to capture some of that outside revenue would be to increase the state's tax on gasoline. Not a bad idea as a transportation policy, he said, but untenable as a political matter. People see gas as "one of the necessities of life," he said, and would view a gas tax increase as equivalent to a new tax on food or medicine.

By Robert Thomson  |  May 14, 2008; 2:54 PM ET
Categories:  Transportation Politics  
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Not a 1 cent sales tax increase. A 1 PERCENT sales tax increase.

Don't make it sound like a penny when I just paid 9% tax on a takeout meal in Arlington.

We already pay enough sales tax in NoVA.

Posted by: Bob | May 14, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Useless, just like the rest of the General Assembly. Time to move out of this CommonSHAFT.

Posted by: VDOT and Metro should merge | May 14, 2008 5:01 PM | Report abuse

"Not a 1 cent sales tax increase. A 1 PERCENT sales tax increase."

THANK YOU. I heard the same misleading propaganda on WTOP this morning. Better to say "1¢ on the dollar" if you want to refer to 1¢. On a $100 purchase, you'd be paying an extra $1. Doesn't sound like much when put that way, either, but it's a more honest description.

Posted by: Rich | May 14, 2008 5:32 PM | Report abuse

How about a commuter tax on DC and Maryland residents? They can start with Pentagon City and Potomac Yards

Posted by: Anonymous | May 14, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse

From Dr. Gridlock: I see your point. I'll go back in and change it to 1 percent.

Posted by: Robert Thomson | May 14, 2008 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Dr. G, I hope my post didn't come across as an attack on you. I have no doubt that the folks in Richmond are trying to pitch it as a 1¢ increase, rather than 1%, and it's their intellectual dishonesty that bugs me.

Posted by: Rich | May 14, 2008 6:23 PM | Report abuse

How about charging for parking for out of state cars at Tysons?

Posted by: More taxes | May 15, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Actually it's a 20% increase. The tax increases from a base of 5 cents on the dollar to 6 cents on the dollar (6/5 = 1.) Which is 20% greater than 1.

A 1% increase would move the rate from 5% to 5.05%.

Posted by: Tom | May 15, 2008 12:09 PM | Report abuse

6/5 = 1.2

Posted by: Tom | May 15, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

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