January 13, 2013

Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) proposed eliminating the gasoline tax and raising the sales tax (with gasoline exempted) to fix Virginia’s transportation problem [front page, Jan. 9]. A worse plan is hard to imagine.

Lower prices of gasoline will encourage more driving, as well as driving less efficient vehicles, resulting in more congestion. The extra driving of bigger and less efficient vehicles will lead to more air pollution (and the governor wants to makes those who use alternative-fuel vehicles pay fees). We will use more of this cheaper gasoline — so more imported oil, too. The higher sales tax will lead to fewer local purchases, more use of out-of-state and Internet sources, and less discretionary spending. So less local economic activity and fewer local jobs.

This is an amazing idea: more traffic congestion, more pollution, more use of imported oil and fewer local jobs. And all of this to build more roads that will fill up immediately from the increase in traffic engendered by this “plan.” I am impressed that just one simple policy initiative can do all this damage.

Mitch Diamond, Unison, Va.

How saddening to hear of Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s proposal to do away with Virginia’s relatively small gasoline tax. In an age of global warming, which will have dire consequences for my granddaughter, it would be healthier to quadruple gasoline taxes to create incentives for less use of gasoline. Some of us feel so strongly about this that 10 years ago we formed a “voluntary gas tax” group. We “tax” ourselves 50 cents a gallon for the gas we use and donate the money for projects such as building community bike paths or solar hot water systems for Habitat for Humanity houses.

Earl Martin, Harrisonburg

Virginia gas tax revenue is inadequate not only because of more fuel-efficient cars. Some of us have changed driving habits.

My family’s annual miles for two cars have steadily declined over the past decade and are now below 15,000 miles. Our mileage in 1999 and 2000 averaged 29,884 (some of which was business miles, but that does not affect the gas tax paid). Any way you count it, the drop is significant. And the mileage before 1999 was much higher, when we traveled a lot to see our kids in college.

I now walk or bike to the grocery, Metro, pharmacy, gym, restaurants, relatives’ homes, church, ATM — as much as planning permits.

John D. White, Arlington