Deadline extended for Virginia transportation bills

| Friday, July 28, 2006

A Virginia House panel voted Monday, July 24, to lift its deadline for acting on four Senate bills that deal with transportation revenue.

The House Finance Committee previously tabled the measures until Aug. 1. The bills would have died next week had the panel not rescinded the deadline.

Lawmakers plan to return to the capitol after Labor Day to try and hammer out a fix for transportation. The issue of how to raise money for roads, rail and mass transit went unresolved through this year’s regular session and subsequent budget negotiations.

Delegate Harry “Bob” Purkey, R-Virginia Beach, and chairman of the Finance Committee, urged his counterparts who want to submit new road bills to do so by Sept. 1, The Associated Press reported.

The Senate bills include an effort to increase taxes and fees to raise nearly $750 million a year for transportation projects statewide. Another provision in the bill would impose a 6-cent-per-gallon tax on fuel distribution terminals, which could be passed along to consumers.

The other bills would allow regional authorities in northern Virginia, Hampton Roads and along part of the Interstate 81 corridor to generate additional revenue for roads and transit, The AP reported. Tolls and higher taxes are listed among the possibilities to boost revenues.

Both chambers are led by Republicans who differ sharply on whether new taxes are necessary to pay for transportation work. House lawmakers are opposed to new taxes while the Senate and Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine favor them.

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