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July 1: Another Reminder of Virginia's 'Gang of Five'

Although the headline in today's Washington Times told us Virginia "Residents will pay more tax on tobacco, less on food," July 1 is another reminder of the largest tax increase in Virginia's history, which passed out of the 2004 General Assembly. That $1.38 billion tax increase was the project of Governor Mark Warner (D) and Senator John Chichester (R), leader of the Senate's self-named Gang of Five. Among other features of that tax increase, "The package also increased the sales tax and the tax on real estate transactions and imposed an excise tax on tobacco products." However, the word from the governor's office continues to be that it was tax reform, i.e., "Tax reform was really that," said the governor's spokeswoman. Excuse me, but $1.38 billion is a tax increase. For more on Virginia's Gang of Five, see this report from the Washington Post. Governor Warner even took direct aim at critics of his record-setting tax hike during his monthly radio call-in show where the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported "He emphasized that members of the GOP-dominated House (of Delegates) budget committee sought more than $2 billion in additional spending requests last session."