RICHMOND, JAN. 20 -- The cornerstone of Lt. Gov. L. Douglas Wilder's sparse legislative package -- a proposal to repeal the state sales tax on nonprescription drugs -- was introduced today by Sen. Dudley J. (Buzz) Emick Jr. (D-Fincastle), who chided Gov. Gerald L. Baliles for not supporting it.
Emick noted that as a legislator Baliles supported a similar proposal and "thought it was nothing short of a sensational idea."
Now, Baliles contends there is no room in his proposed $22.5 billion biennial budget to cover the $50 million to $60 million it would cost over two years to eliminate the sales tax on such everyday items as aspirin and cough drops.
Baliles reiterated his opposition to Wilder's proposal at a dinner with reporters Tuesday, but said he will not actively work to defeat it or any of the other tax-cutting proposals. But the responsibility for finding programs to be cut, the governor said, is up to those who propose the tax breaks.
The tax relief measure is one of only two bills backed this year by Wilder, who is considered a likely candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor next year. His other bill would limit juries that return guilty verdicts in capital murder cases to only two sentences, death or life in prison without the possiblity of parole.
In a speech on the Senate floor today, Emick sniped at Senate Majority Leader Hunter B. Andrews (D-Hampton) for refusing to coponsor Wilder's bill, while favoring a tax-cutting bill sponsored by Sen. Clive L. DuVal 2d (D-Fairfax).
DuVal's legislation, which is supported by many Northern Virginia legislators and has passed the House of Delegates in previous years then died in the Senate, provides a $3,000 exemption on the state income tax for retirees age 62 or older.
Major beneficiaries would be the many retired military personnel and federal workers who live in Andrews' Hampton Roads and DuVal's Northern Virginia districts, but relatively few of whom are constituents in Emick's rural western Virginia area.
Among 10 senators signing on as cosponsors for the Emick-Wilder tax measure were Richard L. Saslaw (D-Springfield) and Edward M. Holland (D-Arlington).