Well, our Governor, bless his heart, has come up with a new way to pay for roads! He's going to eliminate the gas tax and increase the sales tax! And put a fee on alternative fuel cars! Genius! At least he didn't propose another audit.
In all honesty, I don't think our Governor is particularly sharp but I understand the rational for switching to the sales tax. It's essentially a last-ditch attempt to get a revenue stream that will increase as the economy expands. This achieves, without legislative action, an expanding pot of money for our manifold road problems. Sales tax is a percentage, gas tax ain't. I'd prefer a revenue stream that is discrete, like the gas tax, so that it would be harder for the General Assembly (btw, I think "General" is a bit grand for the results they get. Maybe we should bust 'em down to "Lieutenant Assembly") to steal the money and spend it elsewhere. However, a tax that isn't a percentage requires adjustment over the years…and not adjustment down but the Lt. Assembly can't summon the fortitude to govern so they spend their time on social issues and dreaming up ways to just get it off their plates and have the localities take care of it.
The Governor has taken a fair bit of heat for not previously coming up with a solid solution to this problem – a stable and increasing revenue stream that addresses our transportation needs but it's really as much the fault of the Lt. Assembly as well. There's no will to pragmatically govern anymore. Instead we end up on the "Daily Show" for trans-vaginal ultrasounds. Certainly the Lt. Assembly got some other stuff done last year but, for all of that other effort, what was the headline?
As much fun as poking fun at the Assembly is, this is a really serious problem! Transportation is a linchpin of our economy – we need to be able to efficiently travel and move stuff around. Increasing gridlock on our roads only hurts the economy. My firm really doesn't do any business in Fairfax anymore – takes too long to get there and my customers won't pay for that much travel time. I don't blame 'em!
There's also this fun fact: state law requires that the maintenance of roads is paid for first and, last I checked, there won't be enough money to do anything other than maintenance in about 3 years so all new road building will stop. Think about that for awhile. There aren't any "good" taxes but the gas tax is as good as a tax will ever get: the people that use the roads pay most of the money to fix and build 'em. A straight "use tax" that doesn't require a traffic jam while you throw quarters in a basket. Please, can we just get a sensible motion to increase the gas tax a bit and be done with it? Paying more in taxes ain't my idea of fun either but we need more and better transportation options…..