Many months ago I wrote about the “Hybrid Effect” and how that was going to strip away our existing revenues for highway maintenance and construction in Virginia.
In a nutshell, the rapidly increasing fuel efficiency of vehicles means that Virginians (and others that use our highways) are purchasing less petroleum, even as they drive more miles. The effect is that our revenues from fuel taxes continue to drop and VDOT continues to wage a failing battle to maintain our existing road network — much less expand it.
This year, I filed SB 405 which “indexed” our motor fuels tax using a math formula that included vehicle miles traveled and gallons of gas purchased. The purpose was to ensure that revenue increases as usage increases.
In the Senate my bill was “rolled into” SB 343 patroned by Sen. Hanger (R-Augusta) which got at the same goal, but with a slightly different calculation — he used rising CAFE standards as the basis for the “index.” As the senior member, he carried the bill that passed the Senate on a vote of 31-9.
Wednesday, Sen. Hanger’s bill met an untimely death in a subcommittee on House Finance which recommended that the bill be “carried over” until 2011. The comments from the members indicated that it was ”a good idea” but not at this time.
Ok, then when is a good time?
Increasing our Trust Fund means more money to invest in our infrastructure (repairing bridges, repaving roads, fixing potholes). That work needs to be done NOW in the after-math of Snowmaggeddon. That work also creates jobs.
And the revenue that supports these jobs? Over 1/3 of it is coming from out-of-state motorists that are using our highways.
Why not make them pay for this usage and put Virginians back to work?