Governor McDonnell considers gas tax - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Governor McDonnell considers gas tax

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Governor Bob McDonnell is considering adjusting the state's gas tax to help close an impending $500 million deficit over the next few years.

State leaders say something must be done. While lawmakers come up with individual bills in hopes of them becoming law, the Governor says he will soon present his own plan that could have a direct affect on fueling up.

"I'm going to be fairly adamant with the General Assembly this year," said Gov. McDonnell. "We've got to stop kicking the can down the road. The buck has to stop here."

With $14 billion of construction underway, the most in Virginia history, McDonnell says the state must figure out a way to fund maintaining road improvements.

"It creates a point right now where the status quo is unacceptable," he said.

So he says he will consider a plan to adjust the gas tax to match the state of the economy. The 17.5 cent tax accounts for 30 percent of the state's transportation revenue and hasn't been adjusted in more than 25 years.

"The damage that is caused to our vehicles cost us much more time being in the repair shop. We need roads that don't have potholes, roads that don't damage our cars, roads in which traffic flows freely. In order to do that, there needs to be funding," says Chuck Gates with the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission.

The commission consists of elected officials and residents who lobby the General Assembly to pass issues it supports. The group is backing the idea of adjusting the gas tax and says it's important to note a tax rate increase won't necessarily equate to higher fuel prices. It all depends on the market.

"Gas prices in North Carolina I find are consistently less than here in Virginia. However the gas tax in North Carolina is more than double what it is in the Commonwealth of Virginia," Gates said.

Virginia right now has one of the lowest gas taxes when compared to neighboring states.

"We have a math problem and the math problem is we have dramatically less gas tax revenue coming in than we did 5 or 10 or 15 years ago and the cost of asphalt has gone up 300 percent and the demands of our citizens have gone up as well," McDonnell said.

Senator John Watkins of Powhatan is sponsoring a bill this session that failed last session. It also seeks to adjust the gas tax. Watkins says he's hopeful this time around, especially with the Governor being vocal about making changes.

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