Transportation Plan Clears Senate Finance Committee

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Despite some protest, Governor Bob McDonnell's plan to fix transportation funding is on its way to the floor of both houses of the Virginia legislature.

The Senate Finance Committee passed the governor's measure Thursday afternoon with a 10-5 vote. A House of Delegates committee approved the plan Wednesday.

In part, the package seeks to ditch the $0.175 tax on gasoline in favor of raising the state sales tax 0.8 percent to pay for transportation projects. That doesn't sit well with some lawmakers, who argue the gas tax itself should be raised as a user fee. But whatever shape a final plan takes, most agree a fix for transportation is needed now.

"The real issue is: are we going to do it through a massive tax increase - which I will never support – or are we going to do it in a way that's more conservative but still raises a substantial amount of money?" said bill sponsor Senator Stephen Newman.

Others made a firm statement against the measure on Thursday. Outside the State Capitol, a parade of hybrid cars protested the proposed $100 annual fee for alternative fuel vehicles as part of McDonnell's plan.

The $3.1 billion transportation package will now face debate, and inevitable changes, when it makes its way to the House and Senate floors.