- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Some Northern Virginia lawmakers said the state’s two-year, $60 billion budget takes a lot from theregion’staxpayers but gives back disproportionate funding for the region’s services.

The budget is built on a $1.38 billion revenue plan that raises the sales tax by one half-cent, the cigarette tax to 30 cents per pack and the tax on real estate transactions to 25 cents per $100 of value.

Northern Virginia pays a hefty portion of those taxes, some lawmakers say.

Delegate David B. Albo, Fairfax County Republican, said Fairfax County will receive 7.4 percent of the funding for education under the budget, even though the county is home to 14 percent of the state’s 7.3 million residents and represents 16 percent of sales taxes, 25 percent of the real estate recordation taxes and 27 percent of income taxes.

Other lawmakers argue the budget contains more money forthe state’s colleges and health care services and sets aside enough money to fund a cut in local property taxes.

Half of the revenue from the sales-tax increase — about $377 million — will go to a special fund that local governments can use for education or to lower property taxes.

Fairfax County will receive a $31 million payment from the fund.

Still, Mr. Albo said the budget gives Northern Virginia “nothing to brag about.”

“Usually the way the state solves problems is calling up rich Uncle Fairfax,” he said. “But you can’t keep going to the well and asking for more money. Northern Virginia is not a place where everyone drives a BMW and makes a lot of money.”

Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter, Prince William County Republican, said the state has to stop thinking of Northern Virginia as a “cash cow.”

However, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Vincent F. Callahan said the state is legally bound to have richer areas support the poor areas. The Fairfax County Republican said Northern Virginia fared well in the budget.

“We’re getting a substantial amount of new money,” Mr. Callahan said. “We certainly made out equitably.”

The extra money from the sales-tax increase would allow Fairfax County officials to reduce the property-tax rate by 2 cents, Mr. Callahan said.The current rate is $1.16 per $100 of assessed value.

Delegate Brian J. Moran, Alexandria Democrat, gives the budget an overall grade of a “B,” and said Northern Virginia fared better than average.

“It’s very good for the state and good enough for Northern Virginia,” said Mr. Moran, who is chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. “The end result turned out to be pretty fair and an improvement.”

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