Hybrid owners protest Va. transportation plan

Posted at 7:18 PM, Jan 31, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-31 19:23:15-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- Hybrid engines do not roar, but thanks to megaphones their message to legislators was loud and clear: do not vote in favor of a $100 user fee for drivers of alternative fuels.

Over a dozen hybrid vehicles paraded around Capitol Square Thursday, objecting to a part of Governor Bob McDonnell's transportation plan that calls for drivers of hybrids and alternative fuel cars to pay a $100 annual fee. 

The Senate Finance Committee voted to send this proposal to the floor of the Senate Thursday during their committee meeting.

"We have to be practical, if everybody had a hybrid car there would be no gas tax revenue," Governor Bob McDonnell told CBS 6.

But is a one hundred dollar fee too much?

"It is a little exuberant - we pay gas taxes too." Laurel Snoded, who purchased a hybrid car last year, said.

Dr. Carl Scotese, an economic professor at VCU, fact checked what hybrid car users pay in state gas taxes versus what new sedan owners pay.

Assuming both cars drive 12,000 miles a year and the new sedan gets 30 mpg, while the average hybrid gets 50 mpg with a state gas tax of 17.5 cents per gallon, Scotese says the sedan owner pays just $28 more than the hybrid driver.

Under the various proposals, Governor McDonnell's plan would eliminate the state gas tax which would make what hybrid drivers pay that much more disproportionate, according to Scotese.

Lawmakers told CBS 6 that the transportation legislation is still being debated. That means all parts of the governor's transportation package is up for discussion. 

Even McDonnell is getting in on the negotiation regarding tolls on I-95.

"If we get $845 million dollars in new revenue -- and this plan passes -- we will be able to look at making those improvements without the tolls," McDonnell said.