Now the hybrid demons are starting to surface. By getting better fuel economy, hybrids, crossovers and subcompact cars are undercutting revenue streams to rebuild roads because not as much money is being collected through gas taxes.

George Hoffer, a professor of economics at Virginia Commonwealth University and a specialist in transportation issues says this: "We've got this problem with the hybrids. Let's think of the [Toyota] Corolla and the Prius. The hybrid [the Prius] pays the state less. ... The problem is, and this is both contemporary and forward-looking, as vehicles become more fuel-efficient, they will occupy the same space and cause the same congestion but contribute less to road funding."

Hybrids aren't taking away that much money from state coffers, yet. The state had just over 15,000 registered hybrids out of 7 million vehicles in the state. Virginia did have lower motor-fuel tax revenues in 2006, which is a likely result of motorists driving less due to high prices.

Virginia will probably have to increase vehicle title tax, but currently there are no efforts to increase the gas tax, which hasn't been raised in 20 years. Otherwise, officials say, Virginia will face a revenue crisis.

[Source: Scott Bass / PortfolioWeekly]


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