Agreement reached to increase state gas tax, citing maintaining roads, bridges and public transit

Agreement reached to increase state gas tax, citing maintaining roads, bridges, and public transit
Posted at 9:06 PM, Mar 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-07 17:49:59-05

CHESAPEAKE, Va. -- A gallon of regular gasoline was $2.08 at the 7-Eleven gas station along Hanbury Road, but if an agreement made by lawmakers is approved, that price -- as well as the price at all gas stations across Virginia -- could go up by five cents.

That agreement was made in regards to a proposal made by Gov. Ralph Northam earlier in the year to raise the gas tax.

“For the average Virginian driver, that’s someone who drives around 10,000 miles a year," Bob McNab, a professor of economics at Old Dominion University, said, "you’re going to see gasoline taxes increase by $60 a year.”

According to the non-profit Tax Foundation, Virginia's current gas tax is just under 22 cents. In addition, the price for a gallon of gas also consists of the federal government’s 18-cent tax, and any other charges are charged by a local government.

“About 20, 25% of what you pay at the pump right now is gas tax," McNab said.

If the proposal is approved, drivers will pay the additional five cents next year. Then, the tax will go up another five cents in 2022. After that, any increases would be based on the rate of inflation determined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Democratic lawmakers said the additional tax revenue would go towards maintaining and improving roads, bridges and public transportation. Some drivers said the increase is worth the investment.

“If the gas tax goes up and the money is used to keep our bridges from collapsing and repairing the potholes, that would be a good idea," Jan Oyster, a driver who filled up at the 7-Eleven gas station, said. "If it’s just going to line somebody’s pocket, not such a good idea.”

“I think that that’s fine," Emily Craig, another driver who filled up at the same gas station, said. "It’s whatever they need to do to maintain the roads and maintain anything that they need to for the city and for the state.”

McNab said the increase is because, "we’re seeing that the cost of repairing roads, repairing bridges, repairing tunnels is increasing over time," he explained. "You have to figure out how to pay for it.”

In addition to the gas tax increase, Northam's proposal included eliminating the state vehicle inspection because he stated there was no correlation between vehicle inspections and highway safety. Northam also cited 35 states that do not have inspection systems in place.

The proposal agreement also called for a $10 reduction in the cost for a vehicle registration from the current $40.75 a year. The agreement needs to be approved before the General Assembly closes its session on Saturday.