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McDonnell takes transporation plan to business community

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell did a quick tour of the state Thursday to promote his transportation funding plan, in advance of next week’s legislative action on his bill.

McDonnell urged citizens and business leaders in Northern Virginia to contact their legislators and tell them to back his plan.

“They need to hear from you that this will do the job,” he said, speaking to a small group of business leaders and media at the Center for Innovative Technology in Herndon. “Let them know that it is important to you and your business and your family.”

A number of Northern Virginia legislators have competing plans of their own, but McDonnell asserts that his is the only one that stands a chance of passing the General Assembly.

“Not everybody will like every component of it, but it’s doable, it’s politically feasible and it will eliminate the problem,” he said.

McDonnell’s proposal would eliminate the state’s tax on gasoline in favor of an 0.8-cent increase in the state sales tax that would be dedicated to transportation. The plan would retain the existing tax on diesel fuel.

The governor is also proposing bringing in additional revenue with fees, including a higher vehicle registration fee and increases the fee on alternative fuel vehicles from $50 to $100.

In all, McDonnell says his plan would bring an additional $3.1 billion in transportation funding over the next five years, $1.8 billion of which would be allocated to new construction.

However, that estimate requires that a final component of the governor’s plan, the collection of sales tax on internet purchases, goes into effect. The bill McDonnell is backing would authorize state agencies to act once the required federal legislation is enacted.

According to a nonpartisan analysis by the Virginia Department of Taxation, McDonnell’s bill would generate about $2 billion in new revenue over the next 5 years without the online sales tax collection.

As part of his presentations around the state Thursday, McDonnell also highlighted some of the area projects that would benefit from the additional funding.

Dulles Toll Road users would be beneficiaries of the new revenue, as the bill would allocate an additional $300 million to the Dulles Metrorail extension, to help reduce the amount of toll dollars needed to fund the rail extension.

For those hoping to see new road construction in Fairfax County, the governor’s plan offers a limited amount: $51 million for preliminary engineering and right of way acquisition for the Route 28 and Interstate 66 interchange; and less than $250,000 for road paving.

The list does include several other big projects within Northern Virginia, including $65 million for repaving on Interstate 95.

The Commonwealth Transportation Board is the body that ultimately decides which projects receive funding.

The House and Senate Finance Committees will meet on Monday and Tuesday to vote on the governor’s bill as well as some other transportation financing proposals.


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