As the bill stands now, Governor Bob McDonnell’s proposed 2013 “Road to the Future” transportation plan is a massive $1.22 billion tax increase that should be defeated by the General Assembly. For legislators who have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, supporting all of the measures advocated in this plan would be a clear violation of the promise made to Virginia taxpayers to oppose any and all efforts to increase taxes unless it is significantly improved.
The governor’s prior attempts to prioritize funding for transportation without raising taxes were defeated by Democrats and a select group of Republican state senators whose last concern is the transportation crisis.
In the past, this wing has required that in exchange for prioritizing transportation as budget expenditure, taxes had to go up. Legislators who demand that more of Virginia’s current revenue be directed to transportation in exchange for higher taxes demonstrate that their lowest budget priority is transportation.
When members of the General Assembly say they are unable to prioritize state spending for transportation, they are referencing opposition from both Democrats and Republicans like Senators Frank Wagner, John Watkins, and Tommy Norment. These are the culprits that have put Virginia in the transportation crisis it is currently enduring.
The Governor’s current plan is designed to win over this wing of the General Assembly. According to the Governor’s own numbers, replacing the gas tax with a 16% higher sales and use tax is a $607 million tax increase. Increasing vehicle registration and alternative vehicle fees is a $614 million tax increase.
Even worse, if the Governor successfully lobbies Congress to implement a national internet tax by passing the Market Place Equity Act, taxes rise by $1.2 billion over 5 years.
This year, as states like Louisiana and North Carolina move in the direction of pro-growth tax reform that lessens the burden of government on taxpayers, Virginia should not take the lead on an alternative course by pursuing massive tax hikes.
Supporters of the governor’s original goals – to prioritize transportation funding as part of currently collected and new growth revenue – should reject the tax hikes in the proposed plan.
Supporting the Governor’s proposed plan otherwise is a massive tax increase that Virginia taxpayers cannot afford.