Compromise sets gas tax floor at 2013 level in Hampton Roads, Northern Virginia
By MICHAEL MARTZ Richmond Times-Dispatch
The House of Delegates and Senate have agreed on a proposal to set a floor for regional gasoline taxes in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia, generating about $67 million a year for transportation projects in the two regions.
The conference agreement would set the gas tax floor at the average wholesale price on Feb. 20, 2013, which was $3.17 a gallon. That already is the floor for a statewide gasoline tax the General Assembly adopted in 2013 as part of a comprehensive transportation funding package that included regional taxes in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia.
The legislation inadvertently left out the price floor in the regions, which subsequently lost tax collections as gasoline prices fell below 2013 levels.
The House voted 65-29, with one abstention, on Thursday to approve the deal on legislation proposed by Del. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk. The final bill would mirror legislation proposed by Sen. Frank Wagner, R-Virginia Beach, to use the 2013 wholesale price as the floor for the regional taxes, which have lagged without it because of falling gas prices.
The floor would generate an additional $45.2 million for the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, including $18.6 million for a proposed contribution to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority for long-term repairs to the Metro transit system, and $8.6 million for the Virginia Railway Express commuter service in the region.
The Metro contribution would be part of a package that still hasn’t been decided in the conference committee between the Senate, which proposes to generate $154 million a year for Virginia’s share of long-term transit repair costs, and the House, which would contribute $105 million a year.
The remaining $18 million of additional regional funds from the floor would go to the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, which provides commuter bus and other transit services in the outer suburbs of Northern Virginia.
The regional gas price floor would produce $21.9 million for the Hampton Roads Transportation Accountability Commission, which uses the regional taxes collected under the 2013 law to help pay for major projects in the region.