House Dems unveil transportation plan

roads-newNot that it will get very far, given the political realities, but House Democrats are weighing in with their own recommended course of action for dealing with the state’s transportation system.

On Monday, House Democratic leaders unveiled their plan for addressing roads needs with a focus on generating $1 billion in new transportation money annually that would go to maintenance, new road construction and rail and public transit.

The Democratic plan also calls for increased flexibility for Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia to come up with their own region-specific solutions.

“To fix our transportation gridlock, we need to fix the political gridlock that has prevented us from coming together and enacting real solutions.  Allowing local jurisdictions to raise additional revenue to advance critical infrastructure projects is a sound idea and is more effective than Richmond making decisions for impacted communities,” said Del. Matthew James (D-Chesapeake).  “We need adopt the best solutions, irrespective of Party, irrespective of the politics.”

The Democratic plan includes a proposed 5 percent wholesale gasoline tax to provide the foundation of stable transportation funding now and into the future. Gov. Bob McDonnell has called for the elimination of the gas tax altogether in his plan, with revenues to be made up wtih an increase in the state sales tax.

“Our reading of the governor’s proposal gives us serious concern about how much additional funds, if any, would be available for new construction and transit in his proposal. We believe the only viable answer must include a 5 percent wholesale gas tax,” said Del. Vivian Watts (D-Fairfax).

“The governor has proposed a plan, and realizes that new revenues are needed to solve the problem. If we take the best of his plan and combine it with other Republican and Democratic proposals, we can produce something significant and long-lasting for Virginia’s businesses and families,” said House Democratic Leader Del. David Toscano (D-Charlottesville).

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