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Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell delivers his State of the Commonwealth Address before a joint session of the Virginia General Assembly in the House chambers at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Monday, Jan. 18, 2010. (AP Photo/Bob Brown, Pool) Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell delivers his State of the Commonwealth Address before a joint session of the Virginia General Assembly in the House chambers at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Monday, Jan. 18, 2010. (AP Photo/Bob Brown, Pool)  

Va. governor considers doing away with state gas tax

“The plan as it stands now fails in its goal to prioritize transportation spending while avoiding tax increases,” said a statement from the conservative group Americans for Tax Reform. “At the same time, there is the danger that this plan could become an even worse deal for Virginia taxpayers as it moves through the legislative process.”

The groups worries that some Republicans within the Virginia legislature could side with Democrats to turn these tax reforms into tax hikes to fund “pet projects.”

“In the past, particularly in the Senate, anti-taxpayer Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, Sen. Frank Wagner, and Sen. John Watkins have worked with Democrats to hijack sound, tax-neutral, pro-growth transportation funding proposals to turn them into tax hikes to fund their pet projects,” reads the statement.

“By funding everything else the government does first, leaving no room left for basic transportation needs, these members’ actions reveal what their rhetoric obscures,” ATR adds. “They will only meet this core function of government after every spending interest in Richmond is served.”

The News Leader reports that in the past Democrats have been opposed to proposals that dedicate more sales tax revenue for transportation, arguing that it’s a “raid on public education and other priorities that are financed by the state’s general fund.”

McDonnell’s plan is also largely contingent on congressional actions, as Congress is expected to pass legislation that gives states the authority to collect out-of-state sales taxes. The governor wants to earmark some of this potential revenue for transportation, which could raise $1.1 million over five years.

“The fact is Virginia does not have a revenue problem; it has a problem prioritizing spending,” concludes the ATR statement.

NBC 12 reports that $364 million must be moved from Virginia’s construction account to pay for road maintenance this year, because of funding shortfalls.

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