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Norquist joins the fray over Va.’s proposed transportation bill

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – A vote is expected Monday in the Virginia House of Delegates on Gov. Bob McDonnell’s $3.1 billion transportation package.

There is strong opposition in the state Senate, and it’s likely to take some compromise to get it through. But, there’s also a behind-the-scenes effort that could have a big impact.

Grover Norquist and his ant-tax group are targeting 22 Virginia legislators with a robo-call campaign to strike up opposition to the transportation plan.

He is aiming at both Democrats and Republicans, including seven in Northern Virginia.

The Virginian Pilot says Norquist has labeled the transportation plan as a “road tax”, even though it eliminates the state’s current 17.5 cent gas tax in favor of a sales tax increase from 5 to 5.8 percent.

“I would say the average person that’s looking at that does not see that as a major tax increase. I do not agree with that,” says House Majority Leader Kirkland Cox, R-Colonial Heights, who is not among those targeted by Norquist.

Cox says the plan is revenue neutral, though it does include some fee increases, such as a $100 a year charge for alternative fuel vehicles.

Lawmakers from both parties have expressed concern over the bill, which faces strong Democratic opposition in the state Senate. The Senate is split 20-20 along party lines.

Cox says he feels most of the disagreement can be worked out in a conference committee, if some kind of bill passes the senate.

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(Copyright 2013 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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