- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 19, 2001

Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Mark L. Earley yesterday said finishing the repeal of the car tax should take a back seat to any security-related expenses that might occur in the wake of last week's terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Cente in New York.
In a statement released last night in response to reporters' questions, Mr. Earley said he wants to finish the car-tax cut, but left open the possibility that security expenses may preclude that.
"I have been and remain committed to cutting the car tax on time and on target. But make no mistake, given this time of national emergency and war, by necessity, our immediate priority must be to provide for the safety and security of our citizens and to help the victims and their families, many of whom live in Virginia," he said in the statement.
He was making fund-raising calls yesterday and wasn't available to answer questions on the issue.
Jay Katzen, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, said this week he could see a scenario in which the state's need to spend on security could prevent it from finishing the car-tax phaseout.
"If in fact we had a greater priority to use our revenues for security purposes, then that would be a higher priority for me than paying off 100 percent of the car tax at that juncture," Mr. Katzen said in a telephone interview.
His position was first reported in yesterday's Newport News Daily Press.
Mr. Katzen said he remains committed to the tax cut, but if the state needed to spend money on security at airports, for example, that would take priority.
Gov. James S. Gilmore III, a Republican, won election in 1997 by promising to phase out the personal property tax on up to $20,000 of the value of privately owned cars.
The phaseout was scheduled for five years, with the fifth year and the final 30 percent coming next year, as long as the state's finances meet certain revenue collection and economic targets, or triggers.
Mr. Earley and Mr. Katzen had promised to finish the phaseout on schedule this year, while Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mark R. Warner said he will finish it within four years, but not necessarily next year.
Yesterday, Mr. Warner's spokeswoman said that stance remains the same.
"Mark Warner's position is clear. He will look at the books and he will eliminate the car tax in a responsible way," said Amanda Crumley.
The campaign manager for Tim Kaine, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, said his position is still the same as well.
"If the triggers are met, the triggers are met, and we see where the budget figures are and where we go from there," Lisa McMurray said.

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