General Assembly recesses for two weeks, no compromise in sight

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Lawmakers are still miles apart on transportation funding.

They recess today until July 9 to avoid vacation plans and scheduling conflicts. Here is a recap of where the legislature stands:

- Gov. Timothy M. Kaine’s $1 billion transportation plan is essentially dead. The House Rules committee killed his proposal and it was not introduced in the Senate. Kaine’s plan included raising the automobile sales tax, vehicle registration fees, the grantor’s tax on home sales and increasing the sales tax in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia.

- The full Senate has passed legislation that would increase the gas tax by 6 cents per gallon. Currently, Virginia’s gas tax is 17.5 cents per gallon. It would also increase the sales tax by a quarter percentage point and a half percentage point on the automobile sales tax. The House Rules committee sent the bill to the House floor, but likely only to force House Democrats to take a politically tough vote.

-  Republicans are trying to revise regional plans that were deemed unconstitutional by the Virginia Supreme Court. The House Rules committee has sent the plan to the full House for a vote. Under the bill, Northern Virginia could raise $156 million a year for regional transportation projects. The plan includes a $100 fee for new driver’s licenses, a 40-cent increase per $100 of assessed value increase on the homes sales tax, and a 2 percent increase on the sales tax on hotels and rental cars. The taxes would need to be raised by local governments. Money for Hampton Roads transportation projects would be raised by a $20 increase on vehicle registrations and inspections, a 2 percent tax on vehicle rentals and by designating part of the state taxes from port traffic toward transportation projects. All raises in fees and taxes would require approval from the local governments.

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