Bob McDonnell would like to scuttle VA gas tax

Critics have been harshly outspoken about a recent strategy proposed by Virginia's governor, Bob McDonnell. He wants to eliminate the state's fuel tax in favor or increasing its sales tax. Are you trying to sell or buy a used or new car? If this could be you, learn more on our websites at Gus Johnson dealership.

Getting rid of gasoline tax

Rather than the 17.5 percent gasoline tax in the state, there would be a 0.8 percent increase in sales tax in the state. Presently, the state has a 5 percent sales tax. The law would also require a $100 fee for electric and hybrid automobiles and an extra $15 at registration for vehicles.

McDonnell also points out that the current state's gasoline tax has not been adjusted for inflation since 1986, making it increasingly less effective at keeping up roads. Raising the fuel tax does not seem to be a choice for the Republican administrator.

The biggest issue is how people who do not use much gas will be helping pay for the roads.

McDonnell said, "If we stick to the same old means of funding transportation, we will find ourselves having the same debates and facing the same revenue shortfalls over and over again as inflation slowly eats away at the gas tax, cars get better mileage to meet CAFÉ standards and more alternative fuel vehicles hit the streets."

'Math is suspect'

The figures work out nicely too. VA will make $3.1 billion with the change over the next five years. At the same time, it will save $1 billion annually on infrastructure changes.

Fawn Johnson, a correspondent writing for, National Journal, said, "The math is suspect. The new taxes and fees barely add up to half of the estimated $1 billion per year needed for Virginia's infrastructure. How the rest of the money gets raised is a mystery, although McDonnell has a few ideas. Collecting out-of-state sales taxes? Streamlining the bureaucracy of VDOT? Hmmm. There is, indeed, a lot to poke fun at."

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Some upset with strategy

There are many criticisms, such as one from Will Oremus of Slate Magazine. He said it was the dumb idea for the week.

The burden of the roads would then go towards people who have nothing to do with the roads or driving on them rather than towards the people who own the vehicles. All taxes would go to those who buy merchandise, which is ridiculous, according to a Wall Street Journal editorial. It forgets to mention that every person uses roads even if they do not have a vehicle, but that is another discussion.

McDonnell’s strategy will not work, according to the Tax Foundation. This is because people will start considering the roads “free” instead of thinking about the damage they are doing and then drive on the roads more often. This will trigger more damage.

Jonathon Ramsey, writing for AutoBlog, said the move would tilt the burden unfairly to drivers of EVs, hybrids and alternative-fuel automobiles, who will have to "chip in at the [cash] register and the Department of Motor Vehicles."

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by Emcivy on Jan. 19, 2013 - 2:13 a.m.