- The Washington Times - Friday, February 22, 2002

Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner has let the tax cat out of the bag. The pro-tax Democrat announced Wednesday that surprise he's in favor of tax increases worth some $500 million annually, depending upon whose numbers you crunch. The money would be raised via increases in the sales tax on consumer goods and all of this might very well be the beginning of an out-of-the-closet spending spree that opponents of Mr. Warner have warned about for some time.

"We must not be afraid of giving the people of Virginia the chance to be heard," Mr. Warner said, speaking of the referendum mechanism he would employ to further fatten the state's "revenue stream" at the expense of those who provide the "revenue." He also talked of "Virginia's future" and of "working together." What Mr. Warner did not want to talk about was his quickly forgotten campaign posturing during last year's election season, when he looked Virginia voters in the eye and promised them he had no designs on their wallets. So much for that. In the nicely put analysis of Virginia Republican Party Chairman Gary R. Thomson: "It calls into question the honesty and truthfulness of a governor whose biggest major promise last year was not to raise taxes … he's putting his credibility on the line for a tax increase." Give Mr. Warner some credit. He did manage to hold the line for, oh, six weeks or so since his inauguration.

The most egregious aspect of this betrayal, however, is the smarmy con job being engineered by Mr. Warner and other state officials, who are trying to convince Virginia residents that the government is critically underfunded. This is the very same government, mind you, that wants to spend tens of millions on "air pollution" abatement schemes (including PR programs to encourage people to ride bicycles) and which pumps fistfuls of cash into pernicious experiments in big-brotherism. The list of wasteful, unnecessary and easily dispensed-with programs is long and dreary.

But these aren't to be sacrificed. Instead, Virginians will once again be called upon to dig deep. They also won't be getting the car-tax relief they were promised, either. That's another potential "revenue stream" that Mr. Warner and his cohorts are eyeing hungrily and not likely to part with easily. Virginians should not only expect the car tax to remain in effect for the next several years it's not at all unlikely that Mr. Warner and his friends will finagle a way to resurrect it in full force. It may be bad form to say "told you so" … but there you have it.

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