The Start, Perhaps, of a Taxing Debate

I've written a couple of times about places where Democrats have complete control over state government, but where, nonetheless, they are very cautious on taxation ...
by | January 11, 2008
 

I've written a couple of times about places where Democrats have complete control over state government, but where, nonetheless, they are very cautious on taxation issues (specifically, New Hampshire and Washington).

The upshot is that Democrats see no danger in advancing a variety of progressive causes, but they view raising taxes as political poison.

In that context, I was interested to read that the brand new Democratic majority in the Virginia state Senate wants more revenue for transportation, perhaps even in the form of a gas tax increase. The Washington Post reported:

Senate Democrats said Thursday that they might push for a tax or fee increase to raise additional money for transportation, reopening a debate that many thought was resolved when the General Assembly approved a landmark deal last year.

All 21 Senate Democrats stood together to call for additional money for transportation, saying that last year's $1.1 billion compromise did not go far enough.

Democrats want more money to close an estimated $290 million shortfall in that part of the state transportation budget used to repair and maintain roads and bridges. The money could also make up for the elimination of new abusive driver fees, a top priority for Senate Democrats.

Most states have avoided tax increases the past few years, thanks to the healthy economy. Now that many states have budget problems, expect these debates to heat up.

Democrats in Maryland and Michigan have already agreed to higher taxes in recent months, but it's too early to say whether those states are the exception or the rule.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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