Statehouse Beat: Who Will Pay for Highways?
Sunday Gazette-Mail – Apparently upset that the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Highways failed to find a pot of gold to pay for construction and maintenance of state roadways, a trio of Republican delegates — Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan; Paul Espinosa, R- Jefferson; and Gary Howell R-Mineral — announced they were heading down to Richmond to meet with Virginia House Speaker William Howell, R-Stafford, to discuss the Commonwealth’s new transportation funding plan. Read
(As Delegate Stephen Skinner, D-Jefferson, points out, they could have an additional motivation, since in 2012, the Howell for Delegate Committee gave $10,000 to the West Virginia House PAC.)
Virginia is adopting a rather radical plan, shifting transportation funding away from the traditional gas tax formula to a system that primarily relies on about $640 million a year in new sales and use taxes.
The Virginia plan, as the West Virginia Center for Budget and Policy’s Ted Boettner adroitly points out, shifts the burden for paying for transportation funding away from drivers and onto low- and middle-income families, who are hardest hit by regressive sales taxes.
Boettner notes it also penalizes Virginians who are trying to reduce their transportation costs by carpooling, using mass transit, or walking to work, as well as those who have opted to live close to their workplaces to reduce commuting costs.
He writes: “So far, it appears that the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force is headed in the right direction by ensuring that out-of-state drivers pay their fair share and that we continue to tie our transportation funding to those that use our roads the most, while not placing an undue burden on those with the least ability to pay.”