FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Stewart Schwartz, Coalition for Smarter Growth, (703)599-6437
RICHMOND, VA — Governor McDonnell said yesterday, “That’s right, no more gas tax at the pump. No sales tax at the pump either.”
“The Governor’s proposal to eliminate all state taxes on gasoline isn’t bold, it’s terrible policy,” said Stewart Schwartz, Executive Director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth. “It would send exactly the wrong market signal. By removing a user fee under which those who drive more, pay more for the upkeep of our roads, the proposal could increase the amount of driving and the congestion on our roadways, undermining any additional investment the state might make in capacity expansion.”
The shift to the sales tax punishes the significant numbers of seniors and lower income residents who don’t drive, as well as telecommuters, carpoolers, transit users, pedestrians and bicyclists who are all helping to reduce our traffic congestion.
“The Governor wishes to take us back to the 1950′s and an era of cheap oil that doesn’t exist now. At a time when we want to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, the Governor’s proposal will increase our dependency and the risks to our national and economic security,” said Schwartz.
Because of the nature of the world oil market, the 17.5 cents that had been going to the state for transportation will now be captured by the multinational oil companies and foreign nations, instead of being invested in infrastructure in Virginia. Meanwhile the higher sales tax could depress other productive economic activity.
“The dramatic nature of the Governor’s proposal is also likely to distract attention from what had been growing criticism of the McDonnell administration’s use of the $3 billion in borrowed funds provided by the General Assembly in 2011, including the $1.2 billion allocated to the egregiously wasteful and unnecessary Route 460. The public and legislators ought to demand reforms in VDOT planning and prioritization before giving the Governor the additional money he seeks, no matter what the source of funding,” concluded Schwartz.