- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Gov. Tim Kaine yesterday said refunds are coming to Northern Virginia residents who paid regional taxes that lawmakers approved last year to raise millions of dollars for local road projects.

“Some of it will be refunded automatically, but there are a couple of taxes where people will have to show they paid it,” he said, encouraging people to visit www.hb3202.virginia.gov on the Internet for an explanation of “how, if you paid taxes on the regional plan, you will get it back.”

The Virginia Supreme Court ruled last month that the General Assembly’s decision to delegate taxing powers to the unelected Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) was unconstitutional. The taxes and fees were applied to, among other things, home sales, motel stays and car inspections.

As of March 19, NVTA had collected $13.2 million, said Kala Quintana, a spokeswoman for the authority.

The court decision nullified roughly half of the billion-dollar transportation deal lawmakers passed last year.

The ruling and the legislature’s repeal of the “abuser fees” the state started imposing on Virginia drivers last summer are prompting lawmakers to once again address what the governor dubbed the “endless subject of transportation.”

“The solution is we are going to have a special session this spring,” Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, said on WTOP Radio’s “Ask the Governor” program.

The General Assembly ended its annual session earlier this month, passing a new two-year $77 billion budget that did not address the problems that surfaced from the court ruling.

Lawmakers left Richmond in general agreement that something must be done, but they continue to disagree over the ingredients that should be included in a transportation fix.

Delegate David B. Albo, Fairfax Republican, said reviving the regional plans in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads area is the top priority.

But Mr. Kaine yesterday said a deal should include a revenue stream to compensate for new construction money that has been siphoned off to pay for road maintenance.

Under the current system, Democrats claim all the money reserved for construction will be used for road maintenance.

Mr. Kaine yesterday proposed increasing the car-titling tax, despite the fact that lawmakers killed similar proposals in 2006 and 2007.

“My view has long been we shouldn’t be paying a discounted sales tax on automobiles,” he said, referring to his previous push to raise the titling tax from 3 percent to 5 percent.

“That’s half a billion dollars a year for transportation. That has always been my point of view.”

House Majority Whip M. Kirkland Cox predicted such a proposal would go nowhere.

“I think a statewide increase in the titling tax is not something I am for and I think you would find a lot of Republicans in the House who would be pretty resistant to that,” the Colonial Heights Republican said.

“It’s mainly because it does adversely effect the auto industry, which has not done well lately.”

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