House Democrats outline transportation priorities

Posted at 8:07 PM, Jan 28, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-29 07:07:23-05

RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) -- Democrats in the Virginia House of Delegates have outlined their transportation proposal.

With this announcement, all of the major political factions have made their ideas known.

Under the plan, House Democrats would keep the current 17.5 cents gas tax in place.

To generate one billion in revenue, Democrats would create a five percent wholesale tax on gas. That tax would be paid by gas stations to distributors.

"We need to raise one billion dollars in revenue," Leader David Toscano said at a press conference.

Presently there is an anticipated $500 million dollar shortfall in the Virginia Transportation budget and several lawmakers have outlined various proposals.

Governor Bob McDonnell and Republican Speaker William Howell stand behind a proposal to eliminate the gas tax by increasing the sales tax 0.8 percent.

Senate Democrats have proposed indexing the gas tax in future years while first raising it by ten cents.

Republican Senator John Watkins, Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, has offered a proposal as well.

Watkins plan would keep the gas tax at 17.5 cents per gallon while adding a five percent sales tax to gasoline. That would fluctuate with gas prices and result in an increase of about 14 cents per gallon of gasoline.

With all the major players now outlining their plans, negotiations have begun to merge various proposals.

"What we're trying to do is pick and choose pieces of the governor’s plan and pick and choose pieces of others peoples plans that will work," Watkins said. 

Watkins expects movement on the bills to take place this week - believing that the various caucuses will most likely settle discrepancies on the House and Senate Floor. 

Tucker Martin, spokesman for Governor McDonnell, issued the following statement on the House Democrats Proposal. 

"We welcome the House Democrats to the conversation. This is just another demonstration that lawmakers from both parties understand this is the session to fix Virginia's transportation system. That consensus about the importance of addressing the issue now, with no further delay, is a critically important step forward. While we disagree with the Democrats call for a billion dollar tax hike, we are pleased to see them engaged on this issue."