- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 20, 2001

Gov. Jim Gilmore hasn't given up on killing the car tax once and for all, even though he's got little more than a month to go before he leaves office. The popular Republican governor has called for modifying the Virginia state constitution to eradicate the remnants of this much-loathed annual levy and to forestall any future attempt by cash-hungry politicians to revive it. The proposed amendment would take up to two years to pass, but would guarantee that localities get reimbursed for the revenue "lost" as a result of car-tax abolition.
Naturally, Gov.-elect Mark R. Warner, a Democrat, has expressed "skepticism" and "concern" about the Gilmore proposal an early clue that, election-year dissembling aside, Mr. Warner never intended to support car-tax relief. It also is an early indication that Virginians should brace themselves for four years of "new priorities" that will put the yoke around their necks and the whip in the hands of Mr. Warner, a politician who never saw a tax he didn't find appealing. "You're going to see us come back, reviewing his approach but with some suggestions of our own," he hinted.
Mr. Warner took a few specific potshots at Mr. Gilmore's suggestion, stating that, while providing car-tax relief is a "laudable goal," it's just not prudent because "you're continuing to give away another source of revenue when we already have revenue shortfalls right now." Note the use of language and word choice. The state is "giving away" the money it expropriates from taxpayers by giving it back to them. And "we" have a "revenue shortfall." Who, exactly, is "we," Mr. Warner? Certainly not Virginia taxpayers, who over the years since the car tax was introduced often had to pay hundreds, even thousands of dollars annually, just to pay off the car-tax bill. This of course in addition to state income taxes, local taxes, sales taxes and let's not forget federal income taxes. But to Mr. Warner, "we" have a "revenue shortfall." Can't allow that, now can we?
With Mr. Gilmore about to leave office, it will be up to the state's Republican majority in the General Assembly to carry forward his legacy and push for the amendment to end the car tax. And also to keep Mr. Warner's hands out of taxpayers' pockets.


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