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In Va. Governor's Race, Spotlight on Taxes Again

Each candidate's proposal, moreover, would take the form of a constitutional amendment, which means that it could be enacted no sooner than three years from now, even if it survives the cumbersome legislative process and referendum.

The competing proposals do, however, reflect the now-familiar divisions in Virginia state politics.

_____Virginia Government_____
Homer Tapped as Transportation Chief in Va. (Associated Press, Mar 24, 2005)
Va. Voters Promised a Voice on Taxes (The Washington Post, Mar 23, 2005)
Going Back to Roots, Kilgore Gets Started (The Washington Post, Mar 22, 2005)
Kilgore to Kick Off Gubernatorial Bid Today (The Washington Post, Mar 21, 2005)
Full Report
_____Virginia Taxes_____
Fitch Aims to Give Kilgore Competition (The Washington Post, Mar 18, 2005)
Kaine to Launch Gubernatorial Run Today (The Washington Post, Mar 16, 2005)
Competing Budget Plans Advance in Va. (The Washington Post, Feb 11, 2005)
Va. House, Senate Panels Split on Rail, Roads Funds (The Washington Post, Feb 7, 2005)
More on Taxes

Kilgore's plan falls in with the Republican Party wing aligned with former governors James S. Gilmore III and George Allen, placing a priority on cutting spending and seeking to restrict the size of government. Gilmore rode into office crusading against the car tax.

Kilgore's plan is an across-the-board measure likely to discourage tax increases.

If as a result of his proposed 5 percent cap, a municipal government faces a budget shortfall, local elected leaders would have to cut spending or face the politically unpalatable prospect of raising the tax rate.

Campaigning last week in Northern Virginia, Kilgore called the cap an "honesty play . . . to make local governments be honest with the taxpayers."

Kaine's plan, by contrast, is closer to the position favored by such Democrats as Warner and some Senate Republicans who have characterized the other side's emphasis on tax cuts as reckless.

While acknowledging the political popularity of tax cuts, they say they are the financially prudent ones willing to make the right investments in roads and education.

The Kaine amendment is more flexible, allowing -- but not requiring -- counties and cities to exempt as much as 20 percent of a home's assessed value from taxes.

Echoing Warner's pledge for "fiscal responsibility," he also promises to take the tax pressures off local governments by sending them more state money to pay for schools.

Kaine, but not Kilgore, has pledged to fully meet the state's self-imposed obligation to help local governments pay for schools.

"We're attacking the causes" of the escalating tax bills, Kaine said. Kilgore "is just pushing the cost of education onto the locals."

Even without a change in the state constitution or other encouragements from Richmond, local governments could institute tougher tax limits.

Last year in Prince William County, the board of supervisors resolved to limit average property tax increases to less than 6 percent and, according this year's proposed budget, they probably will abide by that pledge.

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