AAA backs McDonnell on gas tax hike

AAA Mid-Atlantic today applauded Gov. Bob McDonnell’s announcement that he would consider raising Virginia’s gas tax during the 2013 General Assembly Session, despite the objections the proposal is sure to encounter.

“While a gas tax increase will not be popular, AAA asks Virginians to consider what their salary from 26 years ago would buy today and how they would feel had they not been given a raise since 1986,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

That is the last time Virginia raised its gas tax, which remains the lowest among all of its neighboring states.

“The gift of safe roadways, reduced gridlock and hope for the future of Virginia’s transportation system and economic growth is a practical one, even if it comes at a small cost to motorists,” Meade said.

Just as a family would have trouble keeping up with basic household expenses on a 26- year-old salary level, so does the Virginia Department of Transportation, which cannot,  at this point,  afford to do required basic maintenance on the roadways and bridges in the commonwealth, according to AAA.  “Virginia motorists expect the roadways and bridges they travel on each day to be properly maintained and safe, yet Virginia’s ongoing transportation funding crisis is making that expectation extremely difficult, if not impossible,” Meade added.

AAA favors a moderate gas tax increase to address the current severe shortfall of funds for transportation infrastructure and hopes that,  if implemented, the tax could stop the current surge of toll proposals from I-95 to I-64.

“Tolls are not an efficient way to raise funds for roadways, as the cost to implement them is enormous and it takes years to recover not only the startup costs for building gantries but also the ongoing administrative costs to collect them. The cost to raise the gas tax is very minimal!.” Meade added.  “Where will the tolling stop if it continues to be the only viable option in Virginia, and why implement a program that could cost tax payers to implement?  AAA has never been a huge advocate of raising costs for motorists, but we are also realists, and have always put motorist’s best interests first,” Meade concluded.

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