Virginia Pundit Watch

by Will Vehrs

Will Car Tax Can the Comity?

Back in December, Gordon Morse worried in the Daily Press that that the Governor and General Assembly might be too “lovey-dovey.”

Just last week, Virginian-Pilot columnist Margaret Edds noted that “camaraderie reigns” and wondered, “Can the good will last?”

After House Republicans unveiled a new plan for ending the car tax, the answer, Margaret, is “No.”

The car tax sets teeth on edge like no other issue and Gordon Morse was the first major pundit to signal, albeit indirectly, that the comity is dead. In the Washington Post, Morse wrote, “The folks pushing this deal don’t give a hoot about the numbers so long as they can once more sing ‘end the car tax’ into November.” Questioning the motives of your opponents is guaranteed to interrupt any tranquility that has taken hold in the General Assembly. More.


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  1. Barnie Day Avatar
    Barnie Day

    Will: I’ve checked. This one is graveyard dead. It may find perfunctory passage in the House–so some folks can run on it in November–but it is dead dead in the Senate, not to mention the veto chamber on the third floor. The ten year, half a billion dollar Republican pledge towards cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay is another matter, though. This one will get some traction. Baliles chaired the multi-state commission, the findings (released the week before the session began) of which are driving this. This is a winner for the Republicans. One week to cross-over and so far the Dems are missing in action.

  2. Will, as you alluded to earlier, what’s most important here is that the triple whammy of a uniformly despised car tax, devious revenue surpluses, and massive increases in local real property assessments seems to be playing into the hand of skillful political operatives advocating a low-tax, small government philosophy. Run with it. It’s worked well in the past, why not this November? So what if the current car tax repeal bill fails in the Virginia Senate? Creating this kind of a wedge issue will reveal who supports this unpopular tax and who opposes it; and, by continuously focusing on this issue, someday we may even kill the tax.

    Much of Northern Virginia seems to think there isn’t a local government issue that can’t be solved by raising more tax revenue, but I’d be surprised if such a philosophy resonated very well downstate.

    What’s more, given the rapid and unprecedented rise in real property tax revenues here in Arlington, for example, I can’t understand why the County needs the car tax revenue anyway….

  3. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    John, I’m glad somebody doesn’t think I’m all wet. Most Democrats have bought into ending the car tax, at least rhetorically. They recognize the power of the issue but they are playing politics just as surely as advocates of ending the car tax might be. Democrats won’t lift a finger to end the tax.

    It is possible that someday, maybe this November, voters will ask, “What did you do to end the car tax?” Democrats will give complex discourses on funding and responsibility; Republicans will say “We voted for it.” There’s a certain power in simplicity.

    This is how I see the politics possibly shaping up, not how I necessarily see the merits.

  4. Very interesting points. Inspires me to think. This is also a good blog The Road to Ruin

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