Lawmakers return to Richmond

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Jessica Sabbath

The General Assembly returns to Richmond today to resume talks on transportation funding.

Both Republicans and Democrats released statements Tuesday claiming the other side was responsible for an impasse.

House Democrats announced Tuesday they will propose an amendment to a transportation spending bill that would remove the increase in the gas tax from a statewide transportation plan crafted by Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw of Fairfax.

Saslaw’s plan, already passed by the Senate and set for vote Wednesday afternoon in the House of Delegates, would still increase the state sales tax by 0.25 percentage points and the auto titling tax by 0.5 percentage points. It would also reduce the sales tax on food by 0.5 percentage points.

The plan would also increase taxes in the state’s most traffic-clogged regions, Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. It would increase the sales tax 0.5 percentage points, the grantor’s tax on a home sale by 40 cents per $100 of assessed value, and the transient occupancy tax by $5 in Northern Virginia. It would also increase the sales tax by 1 percentage point in Hampton Roads.

The House of Delegates is also pushing a bill that would replace only the regional plans. The Virginia Supreme Court struck down the regional plans under the 2007 transportation compromise.

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 percentage point 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.

Officials from Northern Virginia, however, released a letter against the plan because it did not address statewide maintenance needs.

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