Another plan to save Virginia’s economic health

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 13, 2004

The only surprise about Virginia Republicans offering their tax reform plan is that it took them so long.

Seriously, though, Sen. John H. Chichester, R-Stafford, offered a plan Monday intended to find $2.5 billion for 2006; Gov. Mark R. Warner’s plan calls for $546. Considering that the House is going to loathe to any tax increases, will either plan make it through recognizable, much less intact?

According to the Associated Press, Chichester’s plan features new tax brackets for the most wealthy, raising the rate to 6.25 percent for filers who earn taxable income of $100,000 a year and 6.5 percent for those who make $150,000 in taxable income or more. The sales tax would increase from 4.5 cents on every dollar of retail sales to 5.5 cents, the same as Warner’s plan. Further, the tax on cigarettes would go from 2.5 cents per pack to 35 cents, and permits localities to raise their taxes on cigarettes additional 55 cents per pack. This would be done in five steps starting in 2005.

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To Warner’s credit, he has publicly welcomed Chichester’s proposal, politics aside. This shows that the governor is more concerned with Virginia’s economic health than partisan politics. Will other Republicans and Democrats behave likewise?

Some other details:

The car tax relief plan would be completed in a year, rather than four.

A 3-cent increase in the state excise tax on fuel, bringing it to 20.5 cents per gallon and increasing the motor vehicle registration fee by $10.

Chichester’s plan would also cut the food tax by 2 percentage points, not the 1.5 percentage points that Warner’s plan recommends.

Soon enough, the General Assembly will act on these plans. Let’s hope that Virginians will benefit one way or another.