Much of the discussion and attention of this year's legislative session thus far has been surrounding how to fund transportation. Governor Bob McDonnell initiated the discussion with a bold plan to be the first state in the nation to eliminate the archaic gas tax and replace that revenue with numerous other tax and fee changes. Yesterday, Senator Steve Newman (R-23, Forest) introduced a plan that would replace the gas tax with a sales tax of 5.5 percent on gas, but keep the state sales tax at 5 percent. This proposal is a very positive development in the debate surrounding how to fund transportation.

To this point, we have been monitoring the various proposals and debates in committee, knowing that the initial offers from Governor McDonnell and others would not be the final package. Unfortunately, liberals in Richmond have their own plans — and they include massive tax hikes in the billions of dollars that would cripple our economy and rip money from our families, already paying at least $3.60 a gallon for gas in some parts of the state, during some of the most challenging economic times we've ever faced.

Senator Newman's plan offers legislators an opportunity to address the needs of transportation — and there are needs — without increasing the tax burden on Virginia families. There is no doubt that the General Assembly has an opportunity this year to address an issue that has been challenging our elected officials for years. Senator Newman's plan is the best proposal we've seen at this point.

The House and Senate will vote on various plans, have more committee meetings, amendments, floor surprises and, ultimately, conference committee process that will change its content faster than the twists in an Albermarle County back road. So no one knows exactly what the outcome will be until the final days of session. We do know that we will oppose any plan that taxes Virginia families' hard earned income and that Senator Newman's plan has provided a new, improved platform from which to continue the discussion.