November 21, 2012
Gov. Bob McDonnell has previously said he'd veto any legislation that attempts to raise the gas tax, but in interviews this week, he now contends he'll explore a hike in the upcoming session of the general assembly.
"I think the gas prices are high enough now," Charlottesville resident Migranot Thomas said. "I don't think we need to be paying any more."
McDonnell says he would consider raising the gas tax for the first time in 26 years to help cover costs for transportation projects. He said he would raise the tax in lieu of putting tolls on Virginia interstates.
"Tolls cause so much extra traffic," Williamsburg resident Christine Bingham said. "Although taxes aren't exactly what I'd like to be paying, it's better than a toll."
The new proposal from the Republican governor is a switch from his gubernatorial campaign platform in 2009. In the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce debate on Sept. 17, 2009, against Democratic opponent Creigh Deeds, McDonnell said there are other ways to cover increasing transportation costs.
"I've outlined detailed plans to create 12 different funding mechanisms to use bonds and public-private partnerships to move money from the general fund, because that's a core function of government," McDonnell said in the debate.
Virginia drivers have mixed opinions of the proposal.
"They can put tolls on the interstate rather than taking money out of my pocket or charging me," Thomas said.
"I believe [a gas tax would] be better," Bingham said. "If we had to choose one, I think it's the lesser of two evils."
"Gas can go up, and you can have no capping on how high it can go," Charlottesville resident Betty Nowell said. "Tolls have a cap off."
Gas tax or tolls, the debate will likely come up once again in the next session of the General Assembly, although McDonnell has been quiet on specifics as to how much he'd like to see the gas tax go up.