With just six Republicans in favor, the Virginia Senate passed its version of a transportation package that would devote $300 million for the Dulles Rail extension and raise more than $900 million a year for maintanence and roads construction.
The Senate plan takes a different route than Gov. Bob McDonnell’s proposal to bring in funds for Virginia roads. It would raise the gas tax from 17.5 cents to 22.5 cents per gallon, while McDonnell wanted to eliminate the gas tax entirely.
The Senate’s plan also allows a slight increase in the amount of current sales tax revenue that can be allocated to transportation, raising the percentage from .5 percent to .55 percent to bring in $56 million by 2018. McDonnell advocated gradually raising the share of general fund revenue dedicated to the state’s road system to .75 percent, which would raise $284 million for transportation by 2018.
The Senate adopted one aspect of McDonnell’s proposal—increasing the vehicle registration fee by $15. But its plan does not include the governor’s proposal to charge a $100 fee for hybrid vehicles.
Sen. Mark Herring (D-33) touted the funding package as a bi-partisan solution.
"I am especially pleased that the plan contains $100 million for the Dulles Rail Project each year for the next three years," he stated. "This additional funding is critical to help keep tolls from skyrocketing on the Dulles Toll Road."
Requests for comment from Sen. Dick Black's (R-13) office were not immediately returned.
In a statement released today, Gov. Bob McDonnell sounded like he was willing to compromise, and he urged the lawmakers in both the chambers to do the same.
“Achieving our collective goal will require finding common ground,” he stated. “That common ground must include a significant commitment of the projected future growth in general fund revenues, greater reliance on sustainable revenue sources which grow with economic activity, as opposed to gasoline tax increases, and sufficient revenues to address maintenance crossover, construction, passenger rail, and transit needs without over burdening our citizens and businesses with taxes.”
The bill now goes to the House of Delegates--it is expected to reject the plan--which will leave representatives from both chambers to hash out a final version in a conference committee.