Some state lawmakers say when it comes to paying for transportation and infrastructure, Virginia is almost tapped out … and unless they act quickly and raise additional revenue, there will be no way to finance the costly road projects by the year 2017. But Governor McDonnell and the House GOP majority have vowed not to raise taxes during a tough economy.
Republican Senator John Watkins, who proposed indexing the gas tax for transportation, supported an amendment by Democratic Senator Louise Lucas to postpone collecting new tunnel tolls in South Hampton Roads for two years. The tolls were to pay for an upgrade that has not yet occurred, which Watkins says is wrong but indicates what will happen throughout the state.
“The problem is we’re not putting up enough toll facilities in enough parts of the state to make enough people mad to give the legislators and the Governor the nerve to do what they have to do and that is raise the revenue to build the infrastructure. And when we get to that point, we’ll solve the problem—not before,” said Watkins.
Lucas says people in her region oppose having to pay nearly two-dollars for rush-hour tolls, and had they been made aware of the state’s crisis and their options they, too, may support indexing the gas tax. “It’s either this way or that way—there’s only two—we do the sales tax–gasoline tax or you pay the tolls. We they understand that, I think we’re on the road to some improvements,” said Lucas.
The House budget bill proposed phasing-in a small portion of the sales tax for transportation.