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Va. legislators OK regional gas tax ‘floor’ that could aid Metro funding

AP Photo/Steve Helber, file

WASHINGTON — Fixing a 2013 oversight that had hampered transportation projects in Virginia, the General Assembly reached an agreement Thursday to set a “floor” on the regional gas tax imposed in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia.

The House of Delegates voted 65-29-1 for the agreement, which will set the minimum regional gas sales tax at the price of gas in 2013, as the statewide gas tax has been since then.

Without the floor, Northern Virginia has had less funding than expected as gas prices have fallen, which has restricted road projects; Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission commuter bus service; and Virginia Railway Express funding.

Some or all of the increase could help fund Metro capital needs.

House and Senate negotiators continue to work on a final deal to provide additional dedicated long-term funding for Metro, which could include up to $154 million per year from Virginia. Maryland’s House of Delegates voted Friday to give Metro $150 million a year in dedicated funding. The District plans to approximately match Maryland and Virginia contributions.

Budget fight

Separate negotiations over a full two-year Virginia state budget broke down Wednesday night due to a fight over Medicaid expansion. General Assembly budget leaders said Thursday that a budget will not be finished by the time the session is scheduled to end Saturday night.

The Senate could vote Friday to ask Gov. Ralph Northam to call a special session for addressing the budget. The General Assembly could also vote to change the current session’s rules to get a few extra days for budget negotiators to work on an agreement.

A special session could also take up issues beyond the budget, including Democratic gun bills that were rejected during the regular session.


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