Increasing sale tax opposed

Published 10:46 am Friday, January 11, 2013

Trying to address the problem of Virginia’s long-standing transportation budget shortfalls is no easy task.

Gov. Bob McDonnell on Tuesday proposed eliminating the 17.5-cent-per-gallon gas tax. If approved, Virginia would be the first to do so.

McDonnell’s suggestion to make up the money by hiking the state sales taxes from 5 percent to 5.8 percent is not the answer.

Increasing the sales tax would provide more than $600 million more than the current gas tax. Under McDonnell’s plan, 85 percent of the increased sales tax would go to the Highway Maintenance and Operations Fund and 15 percent would go to the Transportation Trust Fund.

Virginia hasn’t raised the gas tax since 1986. Maybe lawmakers should look there first. The tax rate has not been adjusted to keep up with inflation, which is crazy.

Maybe Virginia should look into a one-cent sales tax for roads, which was done in Horry County, S.C., the home of Myrtle Beach. Implemented in May 2007, the tax brought in an additional penny on all retail sales, accommodations and prepared food and beverage. The county is slated to receive $425 million during the seven-year life of the tax program.

The one-cent tax may be an option for Virginia.