Republican leaders in the Virginia statehouse have reached a
tentative deal for how to pay for transportation needs in the state. Whether it
will pass muster with enough lawmakers to gain approval is another matter.
A handful of GOP House and Senate members recently unveiled
their plan that relies on long-term borrowing, higher fines for the state's
worst drivers, tolls, tax and fee increases, surplus money and possible
regional taxing authorities.
The agreement follows a lengthy dispute between Republicans
in the House and Senate about how to address the state's struggling
transportation needs. Both chambers have Republican majorities.
For the past several months, Senate leaders and Democratic Gov.
Tim Kaine have said new revenues, including a fuel tax increase, are needed to
address congestion and maintenance costs, while House leaders have vehemently
opposed higher taxes and fees.
Of particular interest to truckers, the latest proposal -
HB3202 - includes a provision to increase the state's 16-cent-per-gallon tax on
diesel to 17.5 cents. It also would boost penalties for overweight trucks and
heavy truck registration fees.
The 43-page Republican plan includes about $1.4 billion
annually in state and regional funds. It also authorizes bonds totaling $2
As introduced, regional authorities for Hampton Roads and
Northern Virginia would be authorized to place tolls on new or upgraded roads.
Other sources tapped for funding include dedicating nearly
$230 million of the state's surplus funds and tapping into the general fund for
another $250 million.
Not included in the transportation plan is a provision
sought by the governor for a 2-percent increase in the sales tax on new
Despite concerns about certain items that did make it into
the bill, including diverting money from the general fund, Kaine called the
road plan a "significant and serious step."
Democrats said they are concerned about the regional plan
that allows cities and counties to impose so-called congestion fees on home
sales and higher taxes on real estate deals.
- By Keith Goble,
state legislative editor