Governor Northam’s recent budget proposal includes transportation funding changes and eliminating state vehicle inspections.
The transportation-related portions of Governor Northam’s budget proposal announcement is below, but you can read the full announcement here.
I said at the beginning of this speech that this budget puts money into areas that have been underfunded.
But in some cases, programs are underfunded because their revenue sources are outdated.
That is the case with our transportation funding.
Transportation is the platform for our economy. It connects our citizens to jobs, education, and opportunity.
We have made important progress over the past two years, identifying funding for I-81 and our interstates, and for Metro.
But Virginia’s lawmakers have long struggled to find ways to pay for our roads and transit in Virginia.
We rely on motor fuels taxes for many of our transportation dollars.
But modern vehicles use less fuel, which means that revenue isn’t keeping pace with the continuing need.
In 2018, miles driven in Virginia increased, while we collected less from the gas tax. This trend is only going to escalate.
We support Virginians making environmentally friendly vehicle choices. And yet we also recognize that drivers will continue to use more and more of our system, while the system sees fewer and fewer dollars.
This is not sustainable. And if we don’t address it now, it will be harder to fix in the future.
To stabilize our transportation system, we will restructure our funding model.
First, we will eliminate vehicle safety inspections, which will save Virginians about $150 million each year.
Data show that there is no connection between highway safety and these inspections.
That’s why 35 other states don’t have them.
Second, we will cut the auto registration fee in half, saving Virginians more than $130 million per year.
And third, we will raise the gas tax 4 cents a year over three years, then tie that revenue stream to inflation.
That will ensure that those who use more of our transportation system—including out-of-state drivers—pay for it.
And it will help us adjust for the impact of fuel efficiency.
This funding proposal is more sustainable, and it is more equitable. Those who drive more should pay more.
With these changes, we can maximize our rail investments, substantially increase transit funding, and increase money spent on road maintenance from city streets to interstate highways.
We can restore funding for the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, ensuring that combined with the I-81 bill from last year, NVTA will have $65 million more a year.
We can ensure we match federal funds for Metro, and increase the funds available for SMART SCALE.
And most importantly, we can improve the safety of our roadways.
As I mentioned at the start of my remarks, this is a time of change in the General Assembly. We will see new leadership, with new priorities.
Many of our shared priorities are reflected here in this budget. But I also know this new General Assembly will have its own vision.
Related News Reports
Read and watch a report by Channel 3 WTKR related to the proposal to eliminate state vehicle inspections.
Read this WTOP article about the budget proposal in general. It includes a section on transportation funding.