RICHMOND (AP) -- Gov. Bob McDonnell wants Virginia lawmakers to eliminate the state gasoline tax and replace it with a sales tax increase of less than a penny on the dollar.
The swap is part of a five-year, $3.1 billion transportation funding plan unveiled by the governor Tuesday, a day before legislators convene their 2013 session.
If legislators approve, Virginia would become the first state to drop its gasoline tax. McDonnell says the 17.5 cents per gallon gas tax is no longer viable because of inflation and more fuel efficient vehicles. Replacing that tax with a 0.8 percent increase in the state sales tax and earmarking the revenue for transportation would raise $607 million over five years.
McDonnell also wants to increase the portion of the sales tax already designated for transportation.
The governor is supporting legislation proposed by Virginia Beach Senator Jeff McWaters and Virginia Beach Delegate Chris Stolle, in which Hampton Roads residents would vote on whether they support increasing the local sales tax by one percent to pay for local road improvements.
The governor said today that idea would generate $183 million a year.
A local leader of the Virginia Beach Taxpayers Alliance has dismissed the proposal as unnecessary.
Robert Dean said, “We don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem just like the federal government.”
Keith Leacroft of Chesapeake disagrees. “My answer would be yes, we need to improve transportation in this area, if not, we would be dead.”
Kathleen Gross of Norfolk said, “If taxes are going up for the benefit of our transportation, I think that’s a good thing, it’s not that much, it’s minimal.”
Jordan Crisman of Norfolk said, ”We need to solve some of our road infrastructure issues and to me a nominal increase such as that would be very palpable and acceptable for that kind of payoff.”
Delegate Stolle is not overly optimistic about the referendum’s chances of surviving the General Assembly, let alone being passed by the voters.
“I think it’s an uphill climb. If I were a betting man, I’d say we have a better chance of this getting killed than getting passed, but we’re going to work really hard for this,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.