Former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, a Democrat, and his Republican successor, Sen. George Allen, said in a joint news conference that Gov. Mark Warner and several lawmakers who have pushed for tax increases should have put forth those tax proposals before last November’s general election.
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Wilder and Allen accused Warner of breaking campaign promises not to raise taxes, and suggested some lawmakers re-elected last fall did the same thing.
“Because the people of Virginia were promised their taxes would not be raised, we believe our fellow citizens deserve an opportunity to vote by referendum before such broken promises are enacted into law,” Wilder said.
Since it’s too late for the tax proposals to be part of a general election debate, Wilder and Allen said, the General Assembly should pass a base budget that covers core services without a tax increase and then put all additional revenue and spending proposals on the ballot. They noted that Warner and many lawmakers supported a 2002 referendum in which Northern Virginia and
Hampton Roads voters rejected a sales-tax hike.
“If those who advocate billions in record income, sales, cigarette and gas taxes truly believe they have the support of the public, then our proposal to do what the governor and General Assembly provided in 2002–require approval by referendum before any new taxes become law–should not be feared by them at all,” Wilder said.
Mr. Wilder also said, “The effort to exclude the everyday citizens from the tax debates has been so successful that the voice of the hardworking taxpayer is hardly being heard in Richmond today.”
Wilder further added that he would not have endorsed Warner had he known Warner would champion tax hikes.
“If I had any idea that he would be raising the taxes beyond what he promised to me,” Wilder said, “I would not have been there.”