Historic Transportation Bill on its way to Virginia Governor

The final hours of the Virginia State Senate session have handed Governor Bob McDonnell the legacy-building legislation he’s been fighting for.

Lawmakers voted for a landmark transportation funding package that will raise $880 million dollars for road construction, maintenance, and transit.

The legislation replaces the per gallon gas tax with a 3.5% tax on gas at the wholesale level and a 6 % wholesale tax on diesel fuel.

The state’s sales tax will increase from 5% to 5.3%.

And the motor vehicle sales tax will rise from 3% to 4.3%.

In a statement, McDonnell called this an historic day.

“We have worked together across party lines to find common ground and pass the first sustainable long-term transportation funding in 27 years,” McDonnell says.

When it’s fully phased in, the reform bill will raise more than $500 million dollars to erase the maintenance budget deficit, and fund new roads, mass transit, and provide more money for Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia.

There’s a whole wide range of projects, the key is though they have to reduce congestion and be on a regional plan,” Delegate Vivian Watts (D- Springfield/Anandale) says.

Stewart Schwartz from the Coalition For Smarter Growth is cautiously optimistic.

“We need to ensure that we’re fixing congestion at Tyson’s, I-66, and the Route 1 corridor and investing in transit that Northern Virginia needs.”

Getting this bill through was in jeopardy up until the last few hours on the final day of the session.

Senate Democrats had threatened to block passage of the tax and fee increases, unless the Governor agreed not to block expansion of Medicaid to 400,000 uninsured in Virginia.

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