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Dems ask Ken Cuccinelli if he'll repeal Virginia transportation tax hikes

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Local,Virginia,Steve Contorno,Taxes,Metro and Traffic

Virginia Democrats want to know if Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli would spend his four years as governor dismantling the recently passed road funding plan.

Democratic lawmakers on Friday called on Cuccinelli to clarify if he would try to repeal Gov. Bob McDonnell's transportation package, the signature legislative achievement of the sitting Republican governor. The pressure comes a day after the a The Virginian-Pilot reported that Cuccinelli's campaign was mum on how he would handle the law and the series of tax increases that come with it.

As the bill was working through the General Assembly, Cuccinelli made it clear he was against it, first supporting an alternative plan and later denouncing the final bill as an "enormous tax hike."

What happens if Cuccinelli gets rid of the funding source for transportation projects that are already underway? asked Sen. Don McEachin, D- Henrico.

"This creates a dangerously uncertain situation for the future of transportation funding in Virginia," McEachin said. "How can Virginians trust that money is going to be spent wisely ... if there's a possibility that Ken Cuccinelli will take office a year from now and dismantle the bill or repeal the spending?"

For his part, Cuccinelli says it's way too early to weigh in -- McDonnell hasn't even signed it yet -- and his campaign indicated the Republican gubernatorial candidate will present his own solution after the General Assembly reconvenes in April.

"Until Gov. McDonnell addresses the transportation bill, the final legislation and the ultimate impact it will have on our roadways is unknown," said Cuccinelli spokesman Anna Nix. "We do know that regardless of the final bill there is more work to be done to address our serious transportation issues, especially in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. After the veto session, Attorney General Cuccinelli will continue to discuss his comprehensive plans to tackle the fundamentals of Virginia's transportation problems."

The transportation plan raises $880 million a year by increasing the sales tax from 5 percent to 5.3 cents statewide and eliminating the gas tax and replacing it with taxes on wholesale gasoline and diesel fuel. The plan also provides $350 million to Northern Virginia by increasing the sales tax there to 6 percent and making it more expensive to sell a house.

Sen. Barbara Favola, D-Arlington, criticized Cuccinelli for standing in the way of that package passing.

"While leaders from both parties were working together to craft a funding package to respond to the state transportation crisis, Ken Cuccinelli was attacking the process from the sidelines," Favola said. "It's certainly not the kind of leadership we would expect from the governor."

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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