Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said Thursday that he wants to increase the amount of money Virginia spends on the state’s clogged roads, but not with a tax increase.
Instead, he wants to increase the percentage of year-end surpluses that are spent on transportation, spend the first 1 percent in revenue growth over 5 percent each year on transportation and increase how much of the sales tax goes to transportation.
McDonnell (R) spoke about some of his policy and funding priorities at his 2011 transportation conference in Norfolk, attended by more than 700 industry professionals.
Similar proposals have been considered in the past, but have been rejected by Senate Democrats, who accuse him of diverting money from education and other core services. He may have more success next year with a General Assembly controlled by Republicans.
“Transportation and economic development and prosperity are inextricably linked,” McDonnell said. “Whether it’s the infrastructure needed to move people and goods, or certain transportation-related industries poised for major growth and job creation, we must continue to make progress in improving our transportation networks if Virginia is to remain economically competitive.”
McDonnell’s office does not know how much additional money will be spent on transportation, but did estimate that increasing the percent of sales tax dedicated to transportation to .55 percent in the next budget will generate more than $110 million for maintenance.
Proposals released Thursday include:
* Increasing transportation’s share of year-end surpluses to 75 percent. * Authorizing the Commonwealth Transportation Board to implement a version of tax-increment financing so that when the state funds new transportation infrastructure a portion of the growth in state tax revenues that result from economic development surrounding the project will go to transportation.
* Increasing the amount of existing sales tax sent to transportation from .5 percent to .75 percent over the next 8 years.
* Proposing that the first 1 percent in revenue growth over five percent each year be dedicated to transportation
* Allow the state to match local money dollar-for-dollar on capital improvements as well as maintenance within a locality.
“During my administration, we have made much progress, but we still have much more to do,” he said. “That is why I am following up on last year’s historic $4 billion transportation funding package with an aggressive transportation program to continue to get Virginia out of gridlock and spur our economic recovery through job creation, forward-thinking investments, and promotion of Virginia’s resources to attract additional private-sector development.”
McDonnell will announce additional proposals and more detail of this year’s transportation package over the next month.