Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | February 7, 2013

Virginia Republicans Raise Taxes for Transportation – Again



Sales Tax Is Still Wrong for Transportation  

HB 2313 eliminates the Virginia state gas tax and raises the sales tax and car fees.  Americans for Tax Reform show the telling numbers over the next 5 years.  Reducing the gas tax on drivers $3.5 billion and increasing the sales tax on everyone $4.1 billion increases taxes about $607 million.  The additional fees add $547million for a whopping $1.22 billion increase for Virginia.

This is the third time Virginia Republicans in the General Assembly have tried to increase sales taxes to pay for Transportation programs.

In 2002, elected Virginia Republicans passed a referendum for unelected Regional Governments to impose sales taxes to pay for projects that didn’t solve the transportation problems.  The Yes! Campaign spent $2.2 million to sell here.  The kNOw Campaign raised $45 thousand (Paul Jost gave $30 thousand) and The People said “NO” better than 2:1 at the polls.

In 2007, elected Virginia Republicans passed HB 3202 to create unelected Regional Governments to impose sales taxes to pay for projects that didn’t solve the transportation projects.  The Republicans gave the Democrat Governor a major coup in tax increases in the worst single piece of legislation since Massive Resistance.  The Virginia Supreme Court judged, unanimously, the law was un-Constitutional.   The ‘unelected’ in unelected Regional Governments violated the principle of “no taxation without representation.”

Now in 2013, some elected Virginia Republicans support HB 2313 to impose a sales tax on all Virginians to pay for transportation projects.  This time there is a shell game in play.  The sales tax increase is under one shell.  The elimination of the gas tax is under another.  The increase in fees is under the last shell.

The sales tax is wrong, still, for transportation.

Sales taxes and gas taxes are both regressive.  Poor people pay a larger per cent of their income to pay the same tax as more wealthy people.  Gas taxes are paid by people who are using the roads.  Sales taxes are paid be everyone – including the poor and elderly on fixed income

Sales Taxes Are the Cowards’ Taxes

A sales tax is the perfect politician’s tax.  The People don’t see the tax the way they do when they write a check for personal property or income taxes.  The voters don’t see the tax like when they pay tolls.  Sales taxes are cowards’ taxes.

Sales taxes kill jobs like all taxes.  But, sales taxes don’t let the voters know the name of the people who lose their jobs.  Sales taxes hide the cost of taxes.

Sales taxes have nothing to do with transportation.  Sales taxes are a piggy bank that grows every year.  For a sales tax to go down, the prices have to come down.  Prices come down during periods of deflation.  The last time that happened in Virginia was the Great Depression.  Since then, there has been ‘stagflation’ – stagnation on unemployment and wages with increases in prices – but no deflation.

The proposed increase in fees is a straight up user tax.  There is nothing hidden.

Politicians are terrified of tolls.  Voters hate tolls.  Yet, tolls directly tax the users.  It is clear, clean relationship.  The study which supported the ’02 Transportation Tax Referendum indicated about 28% of all the traffic over the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel (HRBT) was out-of-state.

Out-of-state drivers pay the gas tax in Virginia.  Under HB 2313 out-of-state drivers get a free ride through Virginia.  Out-of-state drivers would pay one-fourth the cost of tolls – at least over the HRBT.  Tolls on I-81, I-85 and I-95 would let folks traveling on Virginia’s main highways pay their share.

Gas taxes bring in fewer pennies per mile when a gallon of gas gives more miles to more fuel efficient cars.  Fewer pennies per mile is not a good excuse to stop taking any money for each car on the road.  Shifting the transportation burden to a sales tax is as wrong as it was the first two tries. Increasing taxes on Virginians is even more wrong in this economy.


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