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Governor deserves credit for tacking road needs, but shouldn't totally drop state's gas tax
By Rob Hedelt
TO GET A FEEL for how many out-of-state drivers help pay for our state's roads via the existing tax on gas, I hung out one morning last week at a convenience store just off the interstate.
I had planned on staying quite a while, but my count of out-of-state license tags topped a dozen in the first hour. Multiply that out for a day, a month and a year, and that's a whole lot of folks from New York, Florida or elsewhere dumping dollars into Virginia coffers. And that was just one of thousands of stations across the state.
Why would our governor and many other state leaders want to stop taking all this money from all these folks who live elsewhere?
Though it's a long way from becoming a done deal, Gov. Bob McDonnell last week unveiled
Its main thrust: eliminating the 17.5-cent-per-gallon gas tax altogether, instead raising the state sales and use tax from 5 to 5.8 percent. That increase and an existing quarter cent of the sales tax would be dedicated to transportation each year.
The governor deserves big, big credit for finally acknowledging that Virginia's crumbling pavement, aged bridges and huge needs for new roads can't be dealt with using shell games like bond issues and the sale of state liquor stores.
What's needed, he finally admits with this new plan, is more tax money each year to cover critical needs that have been going unmet.
"Do not send me a budget that does not include new transportation funding," McDonnell told legislators when he unveiled his plans. "We are all out of excuses."
All that's well and good. But many are wondering why the governor's proposal--which includes a few other fee hikes and even counts on collection of sales taxes for online purchases--would include the elimination of perhaps the purest and easiest way
With the gas tax, the more you drive, the more you help wear out our roads, and the more you pay. Period.