Could Virginia locale get road funding fix?

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 1/2/2013

Voters in one of Virginia’s largest locales could soon get a say on a regional referendum to boost transportation funding.

Delegate Chris Stolle, R-Virginia Beach, has filed a bill for consideration that would allow Hampton Roads voters to decide on a 1 percent local sales tax for transportation work.

“This referendum will allow the voters of Hampton Roads to establish a new, secure funding stream to start to address some of our unique transportation needs,” Stolle said in written remarks.

Virginia’s 17.5-cent-per-gallon fuel tax, unchanged since 1986, pays for most transportation projects around the state. Stolle notes that the purchasing power now is equivalent to about 8 cents.

The proposed local sales tax could raise about $175 million annually for the region. The new revenue would be in addition to the state’s current allocation for the area.

Advocates say that the revenue could also be used to support bonds to finance larger projects.

Gov. Bob McDonnell has called for lawmakers to act now to address transportation funding challenges.

McDonnell has appeared reluctant to endorse a tax increase. However, he has indicated that indexing the fuel tax to inflation is on the table.

Without increasing revenues in some way, Stolle said that funding will continually fall short.

“It is irresponsible to continue to kick the can down the road for others to solve,” Stolle stated.

Stolle’s bill – HB1450 – and other transportation funding proposals can be considered during the session that begins Jan. 9.

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

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