I read with interest the Dec. 12 Close to Home piece in which Ken Plum, chairman of the Virginia Democratic Party and a delegate to the state legislature, tooted the Democrats' own horn about that party's so-called achievements in Virginia. However, his claims don't match the record on the issues.

Taxes. Plum said Virginians have the fifth-lowest tax burden in the country, but according to the Jefferson Institute, Virginia has the third-highest income tax in the country, along with a heavy burden of hidden taxes, such as levies on phone bills, homes and cars. Moreover, state Democrats adamantly opposed the end of the hated property tax on cars. Thank goodness, James Gilmore prevailed on that issue and became governor.

Plum also didn't mention the unfairness of the state taxes. Northern Virginia pays 38 percent of state taxes and receives only 8 percent back.

Transportation. The Democrats have claimed that they don't have the funds to end gridlock in Northern Virginia. They talk about the need for special taxes and for raising gasoline and sales taxes, registration fees, etc. However, the American Automobile Association reports that while in charge of Virginia, Democrats diverted more than 45 percent of transportation funds to nonroad uses. Northern Virginians pay billions into the state transportation fund and receive little back; they were forced to build the Fairfax Parkway with their own local tax revenues.

Education. Statewide, 25 percent of Virginia's college students needed remedial courses in math and English. The Democrats had years to solve this problem, but it wasn't until George Allen was elected governor that the Republicans had the clout to impose the Standards of Learning, thus giving our children an opportunity for a quality education.

College tuition costs. Plum claimed credit for the Democrats for reductions in college tuition, but it was during the administration of Democratic Gov. L. Douglas Wilder that state funding to colleges was cut, an action that resulted in Virginia having the third-highest state tuition in the country. At the time Democrats said the funding cuts were necessary because of a budget shortfall, but at the same time they increased their budget 25 percent. Fortunately, Govs. Allen and Gilmore have addressed this problem, making tuition more affordable for Virginians.

The Democrats controlled the Virginia legislature for 100 years, but they did not serve the people of Virginia well. Now, with a Republican majority in the House of Delegates and in the Senate, and with a Republican governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, Virginians can look forward to a better-run state with less government and fewer taxes.

-- Charles D. McGuire

is a member of the Fairfax County Republican Committee; he ran against Kenneth Plum for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates in 1995 and 1997.