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Election 2013: Virginia gubernatorial candidates offer insight into transportation views
By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor

Virginia residents can cast ballots this fall for various elected officials, including governor. Candidates for the two main parties have weighed in on transportation.

Incumbent Gov. Bob McDonnell is not eligible to run for re-election this fall. Virginia is the only state in the nation that limits its chief executive to one term.

The next governor is expected to be either Democrat Terry McAulliffe or Republican Ken Cuccinelli. One issue the winner won’t have to worry about during his four-year term is a major transportation funding plan. State lawmakers this spring endorsed Gov. McDonnell’s five-year, $6 billion transportation funding initiative.

The funding plan includes converting the state’s excise tax on gas and diesel to a wholesale tax. Virginia’s general sales tax was also increased by 0.3 percent with the additional revenue pegged for transportation.

In addition, the amount of general fund money that goes to transportation was increased by $200 million.

Ken Cuccinelli is the state’s attorney general. He opposed the transportation funding methods, citing the negative impact of the tax increases.

Instead, Cuccinelli preferred a plan that ended collection of the state’s excise tax and relied solely on a new 5.5 percent sales tax on wholesale fuel prices.

Terry McAuliffe is a businessman and the former Democratic National Committee chair. He has linked himself to the landmark legislation touting his role in getting Democrats to pass the bill.

However, the candidate acknowledged that the plan isn’t perfect.

“I do not support the diversion of general fund resources because of the potential future impact on education, health care and public safety,” McAuliffe said in a campaign ad.

Cuccinelli said that he supports finding more ways for localities to control transportation money.

“If I succeed, in four years from now, the governor of Virginia will have less power and authority and say over the expenditure of every transportation dollar than the governor does today,” Cuccinelli said during a recent debate.

Both candidates also support the growth of the Port of Virginia. They say that the deepwater port is crucial to the state’s future business success.

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