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Historic Transportation Plan Passes Virginia Legislature - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Historic Transportation Plan Passes Virginia Legislature

Posted: Updated: Feb 23, 2013 08:32 PM EST

For the first time in almost 30 years, Virginia is rolling out major changes to the way it pays for transportation projects.

The bill passed the Senate with a 25-15 vote Saturday, the last day of the General Assembly's 2013 regular session. It passed the House of Delegates Friday with a 60-40 vote.

Supporters say it will help fix Virginia's crumbling infrastructure, and make the state more attractive to businesses. But it will also mean higher prices at the checkout counter. The state's sales tax will increase by 0.3 percent in July on all items excluding food and fuel.

This plan also replaces the current 17.5 cent fixed gas tax at the pump with a new 3.5 percent tax on gas at the wholesale level. A separate 6.0 percent tax would apply for diesel fuel, accounting for the inordinate wear and tear caused by larger diesel vehicles.

It boosts the amount of general fund revenue earmarked for transportation projects. The plan also maintains a suggestion by Governor McDonnell to charge a $100 fee for alternative fuel vehicles, and institutes a "local option" for areas like Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia to raise their own revenue for specific regional projects.

The compromise would pump $880 million in additional funds into transportation annually by 2018.

Lawmakers say the deal isn't perfect, but it solves a problem that affects all Virginians.

"This is perhaps the most complicated, complex, creative approaches we've had for transportation in 30 some years," Senate Finance Committee Chair, Senator Walter Stosch said.

"It gets a lot done," said Senate Democratic Leader Richard Saslaw, "It's going to have to be tweaked in a few years, but by and large the major work's been done."

Despite its passage, many lawmakers representing parts of the NBC29 viewing area did not vote for the plan. Below is a breakdown:

House of Delegates:
Yeas - Ed Scott, David Toscano
Nays - Dickie Bell, Rob Bell, Ben Cline, Matt Fariss, Peter Farrell, Steve Landes

Senate:
Yeas - Creigh Deeds
Nays - Tom Garrett, Emmett Hanger, Mark Obenshain, Bryce Reeves

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