VA lawmakers reach compromise on transportation - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

VA lawmakers reach compromise on transportation


A deal is on the table to fix Virginia's transportation problems - and changes at the gas pump and the checkout counter could be the answer.

With just three days to go before the General Assembly adjourns, it will be down to the wire to approve the plan agreed upon Wednesday. While it could prevent tolls on Interstate 95, consumers all across Virginia will be asked to chip in.

A Wednesday morning meeting with House delegates and senators resulted in a compromise. Now all eyes are watching to see if Virginia is poised to make some major changes.

If there's ever been something so widely agreed upon, it's Virginia's roads need money.

"In 2017, if we don't have a solution to our transportation funding, were not going to have any more money to build facilities," said Robert Crum with the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission.

Crum is concerned from an economic perspective.

"Frankly to attract workforce, to make that commute comfortable for people is going to make people want to move here," he said.

It's why he's pleased to hear what happened Wednesday at the capitol.

"They do have a report to render to you that I believe is in agreement with our House colleagues," Senator Walter Stosch told a group of senators during a briefing.

It's a compromise in what appeared to be a never-ending battle to find a transportation fix.

"There's always give and take," Senator John Watkins said describing the process.

The proposed deal between the House and Senate involves replacing the states gas tax with a 3.5 % wholesale tax. That would be paid by the gas station owner. How it impacts the cost at the pump would depend on the market price at that particular time. The deal would also increase the state sales tax from 5 to 5.3 %. That's an extra 30 cents on a $100 purchase. The compromise also includes a $100 fee for hybrid cars. It is expected to bring in 800 million dollars in five years.

"I'm pleased we have a plan that will move us forward, that will give us a revenue stream that will sustain our system," Watkins said.

This after the House initially passed a transportation plan with the Senate voting down plans. Now both are working together to find a fix.

"Certainly it appears they're starting to address some issues that present a comprehensive package so that no one portion bears the brunt of the transportation funding generation," Crum said.

If the Senate approves the proposed compromise, it would pave the way for the first overhaul of the state's highway funding ever approved by lawmakers since 1986. 

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