A Virginia state lawmaker has turned over a new leaf when it
comes to tax increases.
Delegate John Welch III, R-Virginia Beach, has opposed
raising taxes in the past but now supports a 10-cent increase to the state's
per-gallon tax on gasoline and diesel to help pay for transportation projects.
Welch said he changed his mind after hearing from voters who
are frustrated by the state's transportation problems, The Associated Press reported.
A dime increase in the state's fuel tax would generate about
$522 million annually. The state now levies 17.5 cents per gallon of gas and
about 16 cents per gallon of diesel.
Welch said he would only go along with the higher tax plan
if lawmakers also approve an amendment to the Virginia Constitution that
prohibits transportation revenues from being diverted for other purposes, The AP reported. He wants the revenue
generated from higher fuel taxes to pay for $2 billion in bonds for roads and rail.
With all state lawmakers in Virginia up for election in
November 2007, Welch acknowledged the pressure on legislators to come up with
ways to pay for needed transportation work.
Despite Welch's change of heart on taxes, the conservative
Republican leadership in the Virginia House remains opposed to increasing taxes
during an election-year session, The
Virginian-Pilot reported. The session begins Jan. 10, 2007.
Instead, House Republicans have proposed legislation that
would tie land-use decisions to transportation funding.
The bills would hold localities more accountable for
development decisions, The AP
reported. Localities would have more responsibility for maintaining the roads
in and around new developments.