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House passes transportation bill, tax increase

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – In a 60-40 vote, the Virginia House of Delegates passed a transportation bill that eliminates the state gas tax, but raises the state sales tax. The state Senate will now vote on HB2313. If passed, the bill will head to the governor’s office where  Governor Bob McDonnell is expected to give final approval.

The bill, which sets a framework for how the state will fund future transportation projects, does not add tolls to Interstate 95 and eliminates the state gas tax. But it also creates a new 3.5 percent wholesale gas tax, increases the state sales tax from 5 percent to 5.3 percent and imposes a $100 alternative fuel fee for hybrid vehicle owners.

It’s the creation and increase of those taxes that irked some Republicans who voted against the bill.

“I am disappointed that the solution brought forward did not rely on more funding from the General Fund, the taxes folks have already sent to Richmond,” Del. Scott Lingamfelter (R- Prince William) said in a statement following the vote. “With a sluggish economy, high unemployment, and a concerning level of under-employment, we need to resist tax hikes on our Commonwealth’s struggling families and small businesses. Lingamfelter is a candidate for lieutenant governor.

Twenty-five House Democrats joined Republicans to pass the bill.

“Democrats have been committed to finding a bipartisan solution to our transportation funding problems for years.  This bill, while not perfect, provides sufficient revenues to assist the Commonwealth in modernizing its transportation infrastructure.  It is long overdue and I am pleased to support it,” House Democratic Leader David Toscano (D- Charlottesville) said in a statement following the vote.

This is a developing story.