Virginia Lt. Gov. John N. Dalton carried his Republican campaign for governor into the state's wealthiest suburbs yesterday and warned Northern Virginians that they "would get clobered" with higher taxes if Democrat Henry E. Howell is elected governor.
Sounding what he promised will be a major theme against Howell. Dalton accused the Democrat of advocating higher state income taxes and other measures that would affect the Washington of the state.
At the same time. Dalton said he would ciminate "most" of the 8,000 budgeted - but unfilled - positions in the state's budget, producing a major savings for taxpayers. However, a state official said later that Dalton's suggestion may not produce the sayings he is expecting since most state agencies are so hard-pressed for funds that they alredy are using the personnel money for other needs.
Although the 120 members of the Vienna Rotary Club yesterday gave Dalton a standing ovation at the outset of his tax speech he ended up being chided publicly by Vienna Mayor Charles Robinson.
Robinson, who described himself as non partisan, told Dalton he was troubled by Dalton's suggestion that property taxes ought to be lowered. Dalton failed, Robinson said, to tell local officials how they could make up any loss in local revenues his proposal might create.
In his speech, Dalton cited a recent Howell newspaper interview in which the Democrat had said the state might have to raise its taxable income tax rates on persons earning $12,000 or more. The current rate is 5 per cent.
"Now you and I know that this means a lot of people are going to pay higher state income taxes in a Howell administration> including a lot of people here in Northern Virginia," Dalton said.
Howell has said consistently during his current campaign ofr governor that he is opposed to any general tax increase and would veto such a measure if passed by the General Assembly.
Howell has not explained the apparent inconsistency and yesterday Dalton made it clear that he, like Republican Gov. Mills E. Godwin did in his 1973 race against Howell, will make Howell's tax proposals a key element o fhis campaign.
In his speech, Dalton cited Howell's 1872 advocacy of a statewide progressive property tax and would tax more expensive homes at a higher rate than less expensive homes. "I don't have to tell you who would get clobbered under that kind of proposal." Dalton said, "It's the people with homes in places like Lake Barcroft, McLean, Reston, Vienna and other area of Northern Virginia."
Although the plan 5 years old, he said Howell "has never withdrawn" it. "It's part and parcel of what he calls his populism - a political philosophy that holds you can always increase taxes on middle-and upper-class families."
Although Dalton said yesterday he does not advocate an increase in the present state income tax rates, his principal tax adviser predicts in a report published by the Dalton campaign that "sooner or later" Virginia will tax income at "a much more progressive rate."
Dalton's speech was one of the strongest attacks he has made on Howell in Northern Virginia, the state's most affluent region. In Northern Virginia, the conservative Dalton lacks what his supporters say is strong name identification. "This is outstanding." Fairfax Board Chairman John F. Herrity, a Republican, said after the Dalton speech. "The tax questions he raised are highly significant here."