The Question

Shall an additional sales and use tax of one-half cent per dollar on nonfood items be imposed on nine Northern Virginia jurisdictions to fund transit and road projects? The tax is now 4 1/2 cents.

Who Votes

Registered voters in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties; the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park. The outcome is determined by the majority of the total votes cast.

Who Spends

Proponents say the tax increase will raise $5 billion over 20 years. The tax money would go to the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, a new regional agency created by the state. The authority's 14 voting members include the chief elected officers of each county and city in the region.

Supporters Say

1) Northern Virginia's traffic congestion problems are among the worst in the nation. The average commuter spends the equivalent of a two-week vacation stuck in traffic each year.

2) Creation of the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, funded by the tax increase, would allow the region to begin to make some of its own decisions about transportation improvements.

3) The tax is important to the region's prosperity. Traffic congestion hurts workers and businesses.

4) The tax would help the environment, because it would raise money for transit projects.

5) The tax increase of a half-cent per dollar, which amounts to a quarter a day per household, is a relatively cheap way of raising $5 billion over 20 years for transportation improvements that would benefit travelers throughout Northern Virginia.

Opponents Say

1) The state should be able to come up with enough money for improvements without raising taxes. As the region's traffic was getting worse during the past four years, the state budget was among the fastest-growing in the nation.

2) Northern Virginia sends a lot of its tax money to other parts of the state to help them with their transportation needs. The state should allow the region to keep more of the taxes its residents pay.

3) During an economic downturn, a tax cut makes more sense than a tax increase in order to stimulate spending.

4) The transportation tax is nothing more than a gift to big developers seeking a new source of government spending to expand the region's road and transit network and open up more areas for housing, office and shopping center construction.

5) More than half the revenue from the tax increase would go for road construction. How does building more roads help Northern Virginia's environment?