VA Senator Introduces Alternative Transportation Funding Plan - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

VA Senator Introduces Alternative Transportation Funding Plan

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Stephen D. Newman
23rd Senatorial District

Senator Newman introduces alternative transportation funding plan

Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee introduces proposal that earns support from Attorney General Cuccinelli

Richmond, February 4, 2013: Senator Stephen D. Newman (R-Bedford), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Transportation, today unveiled a revised transportation funding plan.

The plan retains most of the key revenue components from Governor McDonnell's proposal, but replaces the current excise tax on gasoline with a percentage-based tax on the wholesale price of gasoline and eliminating the fee increases for vehicle registrations and alternative fuel vehicles.

"This is a transportation funding proposal that should earn widespread support from advocates for increased transportation funding and from fiscal conservatives,"remarked Newman. "Governor McDonnell initiated a process to increase funding for transportation, and this plan retains most of the key revenue generators from his initial proposal. But, it also responds to the concerns of those legislators who opposed the fee increases and abandoning all taxes on gasoline, which they see as a user fee."

The plan has several key components, including:

· Replaces the $0.175 per gallon excise tax on gasoline and diesel with a sales tax of 5.5% on the wholesale price of motor fuels (setting a floor equivalent to $0.175 per gallon).

· Retains the proposal in the Governor's plan to increase portion of current sales tax revenues dedicated to the Highway Maintenance and Operating Fund by 0.25 percent, phased in at 0.05 per year for five years.

· Retains the "Marketplace Equity" revenue proposal in Governor's plan, directing to transportation revenues collected through Congressional requirement that remote sellers to remit state and local sales taxes

· Directs that Commonwealth Transportation Funds should be used only for transportation purposes.

· Dedicates $50 million to Intercity Passenger Rail Operating and Capital Fund (IPROC).

"As the patron of the Governor's transportation plan during this session, I have worked closely with my colleagues to develop a plan that would win the broadest possible support," noted Newman. "This is the result of those consultations, and is our best prospect to enacting a transportation funding plan. I am especially gratified that the plan earned the support of Attorney General Cuccinelli, as well as several of my colleagues.

"Without Governor McDonnell's leadership on this issue, this legislation – or, for that matter, this discussion – would not be happening. His initial proposal began a conversation on this issue that has continued throughout this session. This proposal builds on his initiative, while bringing more widespread support for an ultimate resolution to our transportation challenges."

Senator Stephen D. Newman represents the 23rd District in the Senate of Virginia. The 23rd District includes Botetourt and Craig Counties and the City of Bedford, as well as portions of Bedford, Campbell, and Roanoke Counties and the City of Lynchburg.

Earlier today, Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II issued the following statement:

"I appreciate Governor McDonnell's forthrightness in approaching this issue during this session. Today, Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Steve Newman is advancing an alternative that I believe has the best chance to get the votes needed to make improvements to Virginia's transportation system, and I hope legislators will join together to advance Senator Newman's alternative.

"The proposed sales tax on gasoline will replace a gas tax that is no longer the best means of raising revenue for transportation. Vehicles are more fuel efficient today than in years past and, therefore, generate less revenue per mile driven through a gas tax that is today a fixed 17.5 cents per gallon, even while we wear out our roads. Gas tax revenues do not rise with inflation, and they automatically decline when Virginians make the desirable choice to drive more fuel efficient vehicles. The proposed sales tax, in contrast, will track up with inflation. I am comfortable with this proposal setting the current sales tax rate on gasoline at a revenue-neutral level.

"Once again, I thank the Governor and Senator Newman for their leadership in taking a large step toward resolving a very significant problem that has plagued Virginians for too long. Of course, even after this session is over, it will be important to continue to work for other ways to improve transportation in Virginia."

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