Virginia's Senate is considering a plan to raise state taxes by $1.8 billion
to deal with budget shortfalls occasioned by lower federal funds coming into the state. And the plan that is closest to being adopted was written by a Republican.
A key Senate committee passed a plan Tuesday that would raise Virginia's taxes by $1.8 billion each year but backs away from proposals to completely repeal the car tax and to give county governments the ability to impose a local cigarette tax.
"I am heartened that a majority of Republican legislators have now gone on record in support of a measure to add new state revenues," [Governor Mark] Warner said as the 2004 session reached its midpoint. "This action clearly reflects a growing understanding that without additional revenues, our most basic services will be compromised."
And of course, not surprisingly, Grover Norquist was up in arms about the idea that states ought to have enough money to provide basic services.
Earlier in the evening, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, denounced plans to increase taxes and said [Sen. John] Chichester, [who authored the plan], is "hurting Republican candidates throughout the state of Virginia" by undermining the party's anti-tax message.
Of course, Bush isn't the only Republican to blame for budget shortfalls in Virginia. In 1997, former governor Jim Gilmore was elected on a one-issue platform - repealing the state's personal property tax for automobiles. If anyone's spent any time in Northern Virginia, you certainly know how many cars are there and can imagine how much revenue the car tax brought in. For someone to think that repealing the car tax without creating other revenue producers was fiscally wise, well, they'd have to be someone like President Bush. Virginians are smart and proud of their long tradition (I should know, I am one by birth). Governor Warner is popular not because he's presiding over budget cuts and tax hikes, but because Virginians know that he's just doing his best to deal with the mess his predecessor left him.
I hope all Americans realize this when President Kerry or Edwards proposes a plan that will necessarily raise taxes shortly after his inauguration.