Daily Press takes a bad poll on McDonnell’s transportation tax hike and makes it worse by misreporting the resultsEconomicsPolicyPoliticsVirginia

Whatever one thinks about the McDonnell transportation tax hike (and I can’t be certain whether Mr. Schoeneman’s support or my opposition is the majority position among the BD bloggers), neither Christopher Newport University and the Daily Press acquitted themselves well in trying to reveal the opinions of Virginians on the subject.

CNU’s Wason Center announced that its poll on the subject found 63% support for the plan. Unfortunately, the question that was asked regarding the plan was this:

The gas tax – the primary way transportation is funded in Virginia – will generate less revenue in the future as vehicles become more fuel-efficient and use less gas. In response to this, Governor McDonnell has proposed eliminating the gas tax altogether and replacing it with an increase in the state sales tax rate from 5% to 5.8%. The Governor argues this will provide more funding for transportation in the future because as the economy grows sales tax revenue will also grow. Do you [RANDOMIZE: “support” or “oppose”] replacing the gas tax with an increased sales tax?

Two things jump out at me. First, there is no mention of the internet sales tax. Given that this accounts for over a third of the money for roads in the plan, it should have at least been included. Second, while the question mentions “more funding for transportation”, it does not specifically acknowledge that the higher gas tax will take more money out of Virginians’ pockets than the gas tax does. To call the question incomplete is an understatement.

Still, as bad as that was, the Daily Press made things infinitely worse by getting the results wrong.

The DP headline says it all, “Poll: Many Virginians support ending gas tax, even more support raising it.” From the story itself, we get this: “…66 percent also supported raising the gas tax to increase transportation funding.”

There’s only one problem…the poll clearly states that 66% oppose raising the gas tax.

Oops.

So…

Incomplete poll + fouled-up MSM story = badly confusing account of the viewpoints of Virginians

@deejaymcguire | facebook.com/people/Dj-McGuire | DJ’s posts

  • Mike Barrett

    While you and I come at this from different perspectives, we seem to agree on one thing; in typical fashionm McDonnell is very good at obfuscation. His PR campaign has confused the issues to the point where those who don’t make pay close attention to the actual facts don’t have a clue. Now for me, the proposal is too tepid, to complicated to understand all the moving parts, too damaging to the general fund, to speculative in that its revenue is based in part on federal legislation that has not even been introduced, much less passed into law, and by failing to deal with major projects statewide, it could actually damage future efforts to deal with these requirements.
    Now, could a bipartisan coalition make improvements sufficient to make the legislation acceptable? Perhaps, but not unless the Governor and Legisators start dealing with fact, no hyberpole.

  • pinecone321

    I wasn’t aware that a third of the hoped for funding was to come from the Internet Sales (Use) Tax collections. It is very highly unlikely that the Congress in DC will ever pass a bill requiring all internet vendors to act as use tax collectors for all of the states across the country. That would surely be a job/business killer, rather than a means of job creation. To put so much dependence on an unlikely agenda is foolish, if not downright insanity.

    Another portion of the Transporation Bill requirement, that all alternative fuel vehicles be charged an annual fee of $100. per vehicle, seems to be yet another not well thought out source of funding. In 2011, Gov. McDonnell signed an executive order, requiring that an Alternative Fuel Conversion Fund be set up, to begin the process of converting the state’s fleet of vehicles (15,500 last I read) over to alternative fuel vehicles. When that goal is met, and the state has all or most alternative fuel vehicles, would that not be an additional significant expense to the state?

    In the more than 20 years I have been living in Virginia, there have always been transportation funding problems. How long ago was it that the federal government gave Charlottesville millions of dollars to solve the congestion problem on Rt. 29 running through that city? Not the first thing was ever done, the problem remains today. I believe the money was to be returned to the government due to the lack of any activity in solving the problem. Every time there have been any funding initiatives set up just for transportation funds that are to be isolated, it always seems to go the same way as the SS lockbox funds in Washington.

  • http://www.facebook.com/craig.m.kilby Craig M Kilby

    This discussion is doing something that never happens to me here: I am actually getting royally ticked off at the utter stupidity of this whole “woe is me” transportation funding thread. “Oh, we can’t rely on the gas tax anymore! We must increase the sales tax and just ‘trust us’ we’ll spend it on roads!’ What utter bull. Come on people, WAKE UP!

    • http://www.facebook.com/craig.m.kilby Craig M Kilby

      If the gas tax is too low–RAISE IT. If cars consume less gasoline than yesteryear (oh, gee, really) then raise the gas tax or create of friggin’ “vehicle tax.” Raising the sales tax to for this? NO WAY that will fix even one pot hole.

  • Mike Barrett

    Of course Craig has got it right. Now that the Governor and the Speaker have finally admitted the devastation caused by failure to establish higher taxes for transportation infrastructure, why propose a tepid, insufficient, initiative that counts on federal money not created, steals from the General Fund, does not even cover major projects, and which is so obtuse that most citizens don’t even understand the basics?
    The answer is simple. McDonnell and Howell want it to appear they want to fix transportation, but of course, they don’t really want to increase taxes. So now their effort is to try to make the other guys appear as the villians so they can get keep their no tax credentials pure while claiming they really want to fix transportation.
    Then the redictricting debacle occured and now the democrats have a very legitimate reason to not to work with republicans, so now republicans will have to kill transportation on their own. What a way to do business.