Virginia Senate OKs fuel tax increase

| 7/7/2008

Meeting in a special session to work on hammering out a deal for transportation funding, the Virginia Senate approved a bill that would increase the state’s fuel tax to 23.5 cents per gallon.

The Democratic-led Senate voted 21-16 to advance a bill that would increase the per-gallon tax on diesel and gas by 6 cents during the next six years. The measure – SB6009 – is awaiting consideration on the House floor once lawmakers reconvene Wednesday, July 9.

It is expected that the bill will fail in its current form because of a lack of support in the Republican-controlled House for a fuel tax increase.

Sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw, D-Fairfax, the bill calls for boosting the state’s 17.5 cent-per-gallon tax on motor fuels by a penny each year through 2014.

Advocates say the tax increase is needed to help fill a shortfall in the budget used for road maintenance. Failure to act puts the state one step closer to running out of funds in the next decade, they say.

The House has been resistant to efforts to raise taxes this year. Instead, some GOP lawmakers say they would prefer to use existing revenue – such as a portion of the existing sales tax – to fill any maintenance gaps.

Included in the bill is a quarter of a percent sales tax increase and a half-cent increase on the vehicle sales tax. Regional tax increases also would be used to fund projects in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Virginia in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor