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Dreamin’ in Newport News

The editorial in today’s Daily Press (may required free registration) does a heap of dreaming about tax policy. In an especially long editorial, the newspaper urges taxpayers to take their tax revolt to Richmond rather than to Virginia’s city halls and county courthouses because it’s the General Assembly that determines the taxing authority of local governments.

The newspaper says they’re not advocating either lower or higher taxes, but just “a more intelligent tax policy, one that more fairly distributes the cost of the benefits of living in Virginia.” That’s all nice theory, but if the Daily Press’ editorial writers want to know where all that theory ends, they should drive north to visit the "Peoples’ Republic of Arlington."

Of course, the Arlington County Board will tell them the General Assembly needs to provide the Board, too, with greater taxing authority. – oops, make that the way to increase the local tax burden. When I moved here 20+ years ago, I didn’t know a thing about the Dillon Rule. Now I know that it’s the only thing between Arlington taxpayers and a much higher tax burden.

There may be local governments in Virginia that have difficulty meeting basic needs, but it’s been years since the Arlington County Board had to worry about how it was going to pay for basic needs such as police and fire. Need proof? The Board now subsidizes owners of luxury hybrid cars that use 'clean fuels' and dishes out $500+ homeowner grants to taxpayers earning up to $72,000, not to mention doling out tax dollars to the arts and paying employees to walk to work.

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