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Virginia's Tax Tank Is Already on Full 

“Guzzled Away” (News & Features, Aug. 5) bemoans the fact that state transportation revenues from the gas tax may decrease secondary to “smaller cars and fewer road trips.” The following paragraph is patently false, if not an outright lie:

“Because [consumers] were pumping less — and often were driving more-efficient cars that went further on less — and because the state still was receiving that same 17.5 cents per mile for each gallon, VDOT watched the needle drop toward empty.” 

According to Ray D. Pethtel, University Transportation fellow and director of the Transportation Policy Group at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute: The total revenue collections from the gas tax have increased about 45 percent. Collections in 1987 were $512,700,652 and in 2007 were $877,734,815. The revenue numbers are at Virginia's DMV Web site.

I believe that this increase is based on many more drivers buying gasoline, which only addresses vehicle efficiency and trips per car. I also don't understand what is meant by 17.5 cents per mile per gallon because the gas tax is per gallon, and not per mile.

It also seems that VDOT spokesmen Jeff Caldwell, a state employee, is advocating some sort of tax increase when he says, “We've got to come up with a new funding mechanism for transportation.” I read that as a tacit at the least if not an overt call for increased taxes unless he was referring to a funding shift in allocations. However, all the ideas that follow his quote involve extracting additional funds from citizens. I believe that this sort of advocacy belongs in the words of elected officials who must face the ballot box. I find it distasteful and wrong that a public employee would be lobbying for increased taxes.
Max Maizels
Richmond

Editor's note: Indeed, the state collects 17.5 cents per gallon, not per mile for each gallon as Style reported. While fuel-tax revenues may have increased 45 percent overall from 1987 to 2007, since 2006 fuel-tax revenues have been on the decline. Adjusting for inflation, however, fuel-tax revenues in 2008 reached a 20-year low and revenues declined $56 million in fiscal 2009.

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