- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 11, 2001

As Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore travels the Commonwealth, trying to sound the alarm about state lawmakers determined to put the kibosh on the promised repeal of the so-called "car tax," it's worth taking note of just exactly what all this comes down to in terms of dollars-and-cents.

According to figures provided by the governor's office, the budget plan proposed by the Virginia Senate would saddle state taxpayers with some $246 million in new fees and levies while increasing the bloat of an already top-heavy state bureaucracy. In contrast, the proposal put forth in the House of Delegates provides funds for existing services, with no new taxes and affirms the promised phase-out of the car tax. Mr. Gilmore supports the House plan, which closely mirrors the one he himself laid out in December, and has put forward a table outlining exactly what the Virginia Senate's tax-raising budget would mean for state residents. According to the governor:

• In Norfolk, the Senate plan will raise taxes by $440 per year on a family that owns two cars.

• In Virginia Beach, the Senate plan will raise taxes by $400 per year on a family that owns two cars.

• In Roanoke, the Senate plan will raise taxes by more than $380 per year on a family that owns two cars.

• In Fairfax County, the Senate plan will raise taxes by more than $500 per year on a family that owns two cars.

A glance at these figures reminds one why the car tax is so hated by Virginians. Mr. Gilmore points out that even after fully funding car tax relief, his budget still allocates $400 million in increased spending on education, Medicaid, the elderly, the mentally disabled and foster children. Car tax relief is financed by trimming excess lard from state bureaucracies.

"The car tax was a promise I made in 1997 while campaigning for governor, and a promise we all made when it become law in 1998," Mr. Gilmore said."We need to keep the people's trust. We need to enable working families in Virginia to keep more of the money they earn." It's hard to argue the point. The governor urged constituents to contact their state senators and delegates and tell them to continue cutting the car tax. Maybe that will drown out the sounds of teeth-gnashing coming out of Richmond.

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