House Democrats weigh in on Governor's transportation plan - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

House Democrats weigh in on Governor's transportation plan

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Republicans and Democrats agree finding money for transportation is a critical need this legislative session. How to reach that goal may be a bit divisive as lawmakers work through a series of bills weeks after Governor Bob McDonnell recommended sweeping changes.

There are many ideas to create one solution, raising revenue for transportation in the Commonwealth. House democrats unveiled their plan Monday that doesn't coincide completely with the Governor's call for action.

"We have a problem in Virginia and it's a math problem," McDonnell has said calling on immediate changes to boost transportation funds.

"The message I'm getting from my constituents is 'solve the problem'," Delegate Kenneth Plum said sternly.

McDonnell's proposal is to get rid of the state's 17.5 cent gas tax.

"If you eliminate the gas tax, gas prices are not going to go down, so you're basically giving away money that you could be using for roads," Delegate Jennifer McClellan countered.

She says increasing the sales tax won't make things better either.

"A lot of our poor people who don't use the roads but are already struggling to make ends meet and pay everyday expenses, you increase expenses on them," she said.

House Democrats stood united Monday, supporting bi-partisan bills. They want to see a 5% wholesale gas tax, urban areas having the ability to raise their own transportation money, a method to ensure money for construction isn't carried over to maintenance, and they want the money in the general fund to stay there.

"We couldn't find money to fund extra voting machines to keep the lines short in the general fund, yet you're going to divert more general fund money away toward transportation?" McClellan said questioning the Governor's proposal.

Another issue of conflict revolves around tolls. The House Democratic Caucus said taxpayers who have already paid for existing roads should not be slapped with additional tolls on those projects just to fund new ones, something the Governor now has the power to enforce as an additional funding source.

McDonnell's plan also calls on an additional $100 fee for drivers whose cars use alternative fuels. The caucus agrees with this type of user fee but says it won't provide adequate funding immediately.

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