Grover Norquist lobbies against Bob McDonnell's Virginia roads plan

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Photo - WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 28:  Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, speaks during a Politico Playbook Breakfast November 28, 2012 at the Newseum in Washington, DC. Norquist is known for advocating the "Taxpayer Protection Pledge," which 95 percent of Republicans in Congress signed, promising to oppose all tax increases, but some prominent legislators are now publicly wavering on their commitment to it.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 28: Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, speaks during a Politico Playbook Breakfast November 28, 2012 at the Newseum in Washington, DC. Norquist is known for advocating the "Taxpayer Protection Pledge," which 95 percent of Republicans in Congress signed, promising to oppose all tax increases, but some prominent legislators are now publicly wavering on their commitment to it. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Local,Virginia,Transportation,Steve Contorno,Taxes

Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist joined the fight against a transportation plan that Gov. Bob McDonnell and Virginia Republicans introduced Tuesday.

McDonnell proposed eliminating the state's 17.5 cent gas tax and instead raise the sales tax from 5 percent to 5.8 percent and using the extra money to pay for roads.

While the plan is revenue neutral in the first year, by 2018, the full package, including a new fee on alternative fuel cars and an online sales tax, generates an additional $845 million for road work.

Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and keeper of the no-tax pledge to which many Republican lawmakers have agreed, said McDonnell avoided making tough spending cuts and opted to just bring more money into government coffers.

"The plan as it stands now fails in its goal to prioritize transportation spending while avoiding tax increases," Norquist said. "At the same time, there is the danger that this plan could become an even worse deal for Virginia taxpayers as it moves through the legislative process."

McDonnell tapped Republican House Speaker Bill Howell to shepherd the bill through an increasingly conservative House of Delegates, where 21 lawmakers signed Norquist's no-tax pledge.

Sen. Steve Newman, R-Lynchburg, one of the lawmakers to sign Norquist's pledge, will carry McDonnell's bill in the Senate.

It's the second time Norquist and McDonnell have butted heads in recent weeks. Norquist challenged McDonnell's claim that raising the gas tax along with inflation didn't constitute a tax increase.

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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