Weekend update: Virginia drops its gas tax in favor of a higher sales tax, and in five days we lose a whole lot of federal funding
In National News, we are five days away from the latest sequestration deadline, which means $85 billion in cuts to domestic and defense funding. This will have huge effects and delays on air travel as traffic controllers are furloughed, TSA and Customs budgets get cut, and Amtrak takes a hit. This would mean major air delays, but Amtrak should be okay for the interim. This is so big, the cutesy animals have weighed in on the topic.
Saturday the Virginia legislature passed a transportation funding overhaul which includes eliminating the consumer gas tax and raising the state gas tax, but in different amounts for different regions of the state (from 5 to 6 cents in NOVA, 5.5 in Central, and I haven’t seen anything yet about SWVA). The bill also includes a controversial new registration fee for hybrid, electric, and alternative fuel vehicles. Along with pulling $200 million from the general funds, this will raise $880 million a year for transportation in Virginia. (Sidenote – yesterday was their last day of session, and we have more than a month left. How did that happen?)
The expansion of the Panama Canal has the residents of the East Coast going up against their governments as they race to get the approval to open or deepen their harbors to accommodate the Panamax ships.
High speed rail would compete with the nation’s freight network.
Locally, the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition responds to Melissa Carter’s anti-bike piece. And I finally got a news agency to cover Senator Fort’s transit funding bill.