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House GOP Prepares For Regional Tax Fight

Tim Craig

House Republican leaders are expected to move ahead today with a proposal to reestablish regional transportation plans in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, setting up a potential split within the GOP caucus.

Del. Phillip A. Hamilton (R-Newport News) said his proposal, which is expected to be embraced by the House leadership after it is heard by a committee today, will include a mix of state-imposed and locally enacted taxes, a concession for GOP leaders who previously had ruled out state-imposed taxes.

In Northern Virginia, the plan calls for a 2 percent rental car tax, a $5 a night hotel tax and a 40 cent grantors tax. There would also be a $100 initial vehicle registration fee. All of the money raised would stay in Northern Virginia to build roads.

"All along, we have said we are willing to address the regional components," said Hamilton, noting all the new taxes in Hampton Roads would be state imposed.

But it's unclear whether Hamilton's proposal will be approved by the full House.

To succeed, the regional plans will likely need support from Democrats because some conservative Republicans remain opposed to state imposition of the taxes.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and House Democrats have indicated in recent weeks they will not support regional plans if they are not accompanied by a statewide tax increase.

But by putting on the matter on the House floor, Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) will force Northern Virginia Democrats to decide whether they can pass up an opportunity to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into highway projects in Arlington, Alexandria, Loudoun, Prince William and Fairfax counties.

By Tim Craig  |  June 25, 2008; 11:44 PM ET
Categories:  Tim Craig  
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