Most of us wouldn't mind saving some money on gas. We also wouldn't mind a pay raise. Those are two of the topics up for debate in Virginia's General Assembly.
Right now for every gallon of gas you pump in Virginia you pay about 17 cents in state taxes. It's one of the lowest in the country, but Governor McDonnell wants to do away with it completely. But that doesn't mean we might not be paying that tax on something else.
"West Virginia is already high on its gas, and we have customers who drive over here to fuel up," said Old Stone Truck Stop & Restaurant Sunny Vaz. "And I think even Maryland has a high tax so Virginia would be at an advantage as far as fuel prices."
Vaz says eliminating the state's gas tax would bring even more people into Virginia to get gas.
"Historically Virginia has always held a low tax rate on fuel and that's always been an advantage as a business friendly state," said Vaz.
While McDonnell wants to get rid of the gas tax you'll be paying for it another way...more state sales tax. It's at five percent now. He wants to bump it to 5.8 percent. That means, you'd be paying more, say, when you buy new clothes.
"I believe his reasoning is this would be a more consistent and guaranteed form of revenue," said Winchester Commissioner of the Revenue Ann Burkholder.
Burkholer says they used to be able to count on a certain amount of money from the gas you bought, but that's changed.
"With usage going up that revenue was predictable, now what's happened is vehicles are more fuel efficient so the usage of gas is going down and that's no longer a reliable indicator," said Burkholder.
Virginia would be the first state to eliminate the gas tax. This new proposal is supposed to cover the shortfalls in the Virginia Transportation budget.
Another hot topic for state lawmakers is teacher salaries. McDonnell's Educators Fairness Act includes a two percent increase for a portion of teachers, guidance counselors, and librarians. One local administrator says, the act isn't really that "fair," but he says in terms of compensation it's a step in the right direction.
"That's still disappointing that in order for our teachers to be considered for a raise from the State, that they have not got in four or five years now I guess, the semblance of a raise comes with additional strings attached in the name of education reform at the same time we're seeing you're going to be a on probationary status for teachers from three years to five years," said Winchester Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Rick Leonard.
Leonard says the act would put a burden local communities. That's because they'd have to come up with the local match for that teacher pay raise.
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