As Virginia legislators struggle to agree on a fix for the state’s chronic transportation funding problems, a trade association for petroleum dealers is taking a stand in the debate.
It wants the General Assembly to raise the gasoline tax.
The Virginia Petroleum, Convenience and Grocery Association issued a statement Thursday supporting an increase in state’s gasoline tax from 17.5 cents per gallon cents. It’s the first time in the organization’s 65-year history that it has endorsed an increase in the gas tax. The organization represents more than 400 businesses that own and supply most of the Virginia convenience stores that sell gasoline.
Gov. Bob McDonnell has proposed eliminating the state gasoline tax and increasing Virginia’s retail sales tax from 5 percent to 5.8 percent to help generate new revenue for roads. The House of Delegates passed a bill containing much of McDonnell’s original proposal on Tuesday. That bill will go to the Senate, which voted down two alternatives to McDonnell’s plan Tuesday. Both would have imposed a tax on the wholesale price of gasoline.
McDonnell has said the viability of the gas tax as a primary transportation funding source has been weakened by inflation, more fuel efficient vehicles and the introduction of alternative fuel vehicles. The petroleum dealers association acknowledged that problem in its statement. It proposed a gas tax increase this year and promised to work toward “consensus legislation” next year that would adjust the per-gallon rate along with the state budget.
Here’s the association’s full statement:
“VPCGA recognizes that a deficit exists in the Virginia Department of Transportation’s budget as the result of slated new construction dollars being shifted instead to road maintenance, as is mandated by Virginia Code. Should this continue, it will eventually impact the productivity of our membership and other Virginia businesses, and affect the quality of life for many Virginians.
To address this, VPCGA supports increasing Virginia’s gasoline tax from 17.5 to 23.5 cents during the 2013 General Assembly session, with the change to become effective on July 1, 2013.
VPCGA recognizes that new federal mandates on fuel efficiency standards will likely result in declining fossil fuel consumption across the Commonwealth over the long term. VPCGA commits to working with all impacted stakeholders in an effort to develop consensus legislation for the 2014 General Assembly session that adjusts Virginia’s cents per gallon rate along the biennial state budget, to accomodate the increase in federal gasoline efficiency standards for all passenger vehicles.”
– Michael Sluss