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Virginia's Transportation Funding Overhaul Could Face Roadblocks

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Some legal experts say the higher sales tax to pay for maintenance on Hampton Roads may be unconstitutional.
VaDOT
Some legal experts say the higher sales tax to pay for maintenance on Hampton Roads may be unconstitutional.

The former chairman of Virginia's Democratic Party says supporters of the major transportation funding overhaul that passed the General Assembly may want to hold off on celebrating.

By setting up a two-tier tax system in certain parts of the state, the big transportation funding bill is unconstitutional, according to the analysis of Paul Goldman, former head of Virginia's Democratic Party.

"The General Assembly is not allowed to impose discriminatory taxes on one part of the state or one locality that it doesn't impose equally on all other parts of the state and localities," says Goldman.

What Goldman is referring to is a provision requiring parts of Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads to charge a higher sales tax than the rest of the state to raise money for road building. He expects the new law to be challenged in court.

"People of Northern Virginia, particularly in Hampton Roads, have been asked to pay, mandated to pay, discriminatory taxation that other citizens of Virginia are not asked to pay," he says.

If challenged, Goldman says State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli may have to defend the Commonwealth's position, but he's running for governor and has already spoken out against the transportation funding measure.

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