For the first time since Ronald Reagan's presidency, Virginia will have a new source of funding for the state's under-serviced transportation network.
The Virginia Senate voted 25-15 Saturday to pass a comprehensive transportation bill that will pump nearly $900 million a year into the state's roads system.
The bipartisan plan, passed Friday by the House of Delegates 60-40, will: scrap the state's 17.5 cents-per-gallon gas tax; impose a 3.5 percent wholesale tax on gasoline and a 6 percent levy on diesel; increase the state sales tax from 5 percent to 5.3 percent; up the titling tax on car sales; impose a $100 fee on hybrid vehicles; and make various adjustments to several other taxes and fees.
Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell was emphatic in his support for the deal.
“This is a historic day in Virginia. We have worked together across party lines to find common ground and pass the first sustainable long-term transportation funding plan in 27 years,” McDonnell said. “There is a ‘Virginia way’ of cooperation and problem solving, and we saw it work again today in Richmond.”
Loudoun's representation in the commonwealth's upper house drew an interesting divide. Democrats Mark Herring (D-33rd) and Barbara Favola (D-31st) were on the side of the GOP governor, while Republicans Dick Black (R-13th) and Jill Vogel (R-27) opposed.
Among Loudoun's delegation in the House, Tom Rust (R-86), Jim LeMunyon (R-67), Joe May (R-33), Tag Greason (R-32) and Randy Minchew (R-10) voted in favor, while Dels. Barbara Comstock (R-34) and David Ramadan (R-87) opposed.
Those who voted no bemoaned the tax increases it will bring to not only Virginia's drivers, but everyone in the state.
Black quickly took to Facebook to announce the deal “will raise the state sales tax, car tax, regional sales tax, vehicle and tangible personal property taxes, vending machine tax, heavy equipment tax, recordation tax on commercial, industrial and residential real property sales, hotel tax, hybrid vehicle tax, and diesel fuel tax.”
Herring, a 2013 candidate for Virginia's attorney general and major proponent of Northern Virginia's Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, meanwhile praised the compromise solution.
“It will raise $300 to $350 million per year for Northern Virginia and $175 to $200 million per year for Hampton Roads,” Herring said in a prepared statement. “Finally, this plan will provide $300 million to the Dulles Rail Project – something I have fought tirelessly for over the past several years.”
Revision: This article has been updated to include Del. Tag Greason's vote in favor of the transportation legislation.