Governor Bob McDonnell's transportation funding plan jumped its first hurdle today, winning approval from the House of Delegates Finance committee.
The vote took place after the committee decided against taking a vote on two competing plans, one from Northern Virginia Republicans, reports Julie Carey, News4's Northern Virginia Bureau Chief.
The Governor's proposal would raise $3.1 billion dollars over the next five years, in part by eliminating the state's 17.5-cent gas tax and adding revenue by hiking the sales tax from 5 percent to 5.8 percent. Another source of new revenue would be a $15 increase in vehicle registration fees and a $100-per-year fee for alternative fuel vehicles.
But several Northern Virginia delegates complain while the Governor's plan boosts depleted maintenance funds, it does not raise enough money for construction projects in NoVa and Hampton Roads.
Former Virginia Transportation Secretary Vivian Watts, now a Fairfax County delegate, says her plan would raise $1 billion for construction projects and $500,000 for maintenance annually.
"I believe the urban crescent is part of the commonwealth and addressing urban crescent needs is not only fair play but essential to the economy," Watts said.
Fairfax County Republican Dave Albo also hoped to have his competing plan considered. "Somebody is finally doing something, that's good. But the bill could have been a lot better especially for Northern Virginia," said Albo.
Fairfax County Delegate Tim Hugo, a co-sponsor of the Governor's bill, urged the panel to consider the Governor's bill without making any changes. "Everybody has been in pursuit of this perfect bill and gotten very little out of it," said Hugo. "This is the vehicle we need to pass out of here today."
The bill was approved 13-8. House Speaker and bill sponsor William Howell says there will still be time for adjustments when House and Senate versions of the bill reach conference committee later in the session.
"We will have plenty of time as the process goes forward to consider all of these things," said Howell.