"We simply cannot continue to do what we have always done and expect this problem to go away," McDonnell continued. "The gas tax is a stagnant revenue source, and no changes to it will provide a reliable growth mechanism for transportation in the state."
Transportation advocates at both the federal and state levels have argued for a new funding mechanism for road and transit construction as cars have become more energy efficient. McDonnell made a similar argument in favor of his proposal to ditch Virginia's gas tax altogether.
"If we stick to the same old means of funding transportation, we will find ourselves having the same debates and facing the same revenue shortfalls over and over again as inflation slowly eats away at the gas tax, cars get better mileage to meet CAFÉ standards and more alternative fuel vehicles hit the streets," he said.
"Market forces clearly dictate that we have to change how we fund transportation," McDonnell continued. "This is a math problem. The current revenues numbers do not add up to a safe, efficient and sustainable transportation network. The time is now for an innovative and sustainable plan to meet our transportation needs and grow Virginia's economy."
McDonnell said it was important to identify new funding sources because "transportation is a core function of government."
"Children can't get to school; parents waste too much time in traffic; and businesses can't move their goods without an adequate and efficient transportation system," McDonnell said.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) has made similar arguments about the necessity of considering other revenue sources for transportation projects.
The 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax currently generates about $35 billion per year. The $105 billion transportation bill that was approved by lawmakers last year, however, appropriates more than $50 billion per year to road and transit projects, which transportation advocates say is just enough to maintain the current system.
Lawmakers used a package of increasing fees and closing tax loopholes to cover the almost $20 billion short fall, which Shuster has recently referred to as a "transportation fiscal cliff."