For example, there will be broad consensus among House and Senate leaders that the state should eliminate the sales tax on food.
Still, there are Republican delegates who plan to try to repeal some tax increases and the cap on the car tax cut that became part of the state's $60 billion two-year budget.
Gov. Mark R. Warner will urge legislators not to back away from last year's budget agreement.
(Cindy Blanchard -- AP)
A Look at 2005 General Assembly
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Va. Politics: Transportation funding will be a key issue in the General Assembly. Meanwhile, campaigns are underway for House seats and the offices of governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.
Va. Legislature: 2005 Session: Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria) was online to discuss the upcoming legislative session.
Those lawmakers said in interviews that the projected surplus gives the House a unique opportunity to return money to taxpayers while undoing damage to the state's finances. "We took two steps back last year," said Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick (R-Prince William), who along with several other legislators has introduced bills that would continue the phaseout of the car tax. "I'd like to see this be the year that we keep our promise to voters and return some money to them."
Such efforts would likely die a quick death in the Republican-controlled Senate -- which helped orchestrate the tax increases -- but the tax opponents are undaunted. On Tuesday, the members of the anti-tax lobby held a news conference outlining their effort to repeal several parts of the tax plan. They planned to pass out "No Car-Tax cupcakes" to all 140 members of the General Assembly.
"We're looking for a strong push from the speaker and his office to support these tax cuts," said James T. Parmelee, president of Republicans United for Tax Relief. "Last year, there was no leadership on the issue. We don't want two losing seasons in a row."
Meanwhile, Senate leaders who last year backed a proposal to increase transportation spending by $1.6 billion expect to offer a smaller program similar to Warner's for spending less than $1 billion over two years.
They are in no mood for another protracted fight with fellow Republicans in the House.
"It's going to be difficult to get a great deal done because other members of the legislative body will be very concerned about the elections," said Sen. John H. Chichester (R-Stafford), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, who will likely outline his own transportation package.
But the Senate still stands in Howell's way in his attempts to score legislative victories this session. Senate leaders are deeply skeptical of the ways that House leaders want to fund some of the road and rail projects. These senators have said they do not want to use part of the surplus to pay for the projects.
"It would be naive to say that we don't have some differences with the House . . . regarding how to fund transportation," said Senate Majority Leader Walter A. Stosch (R-Henrico). "We all have a desire to fund these projects, but it's obvious we have different ways about going about it."
House leaders said they are confident they will be able to reach agreements with the governor and the Senate, avoiding protracted debates before Election Day.
Once at 64 members, the House Republicans have lost four seats since 2001, including one in a special election last month.
"Are there going to be attempts to roll back some of the tax increases from last year? Sure, there will," said Del. R. Steven Landes (R-Augusta), chairman of the House Republican Caucus. "But I think ultimately they will be things that have a chance of passing the Senate and getting signed by the governor."