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McDonnell's Transportation Funding Plan Meets Resistance

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By Tommie McNeil

Some Democrats in Virginia's state Senate are opposing a proposal from Gov. Bob McDonnell to fund road projects in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.

It's part of McDonnell's new transportation funding plan, which also includes issuing more than $1 billion in direct bonds and accelerating nearly $2 billion in previously authorized transportation funds.

Some Democats say the plan will take money away from core services, including education.

The use and accelerated sale of bonds would speed up transportation improvements and fund 900 statewide projects.

But it was the governor's plan for Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia that lit a fuse.

"These are new proposals, not discussed before, are to allow .25 percent of the discretionary sales tax that's generated in Hampton Roads and generated in Northern Virginia, to be able to be retained in those regions and dedicated for road and transportation projects. That will generate about $150 million a year between those two regions," McDonnell says.

Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, who calls the plan absurd, doesn't think it will receive much support.

"Why don't you just say we'll take...the income tax and spend it...because that's what you're doing...So it's a shell game. We're not going to do it. Tell him to raise the taxes," Saslaw says.

Some other Democrats say they like the governor's promotion of rail and barge use, but still disagree with reallocating general fund dollars.

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