Virginia's car tax rebate is a poorly conceived, inefficient, enormously expensive form of local tax relief that the state never should have taken on and no longer can afford. Yet getting rid of it is a political nonstarter.
That has been the conventional wisdom since Republican Jim Gilmore rode a "No Car Tax" bumper sticker into office in his 1997 gubernatorial campaign. The next year, he signed into law a convoluted taxpayer reimbusement program that was to start Virginians down a path toward a total phase-out. The effort stalled when the promised bite out of state revenues grew voraciously; lawmakers capped the damage to the state treasury at $950 million a year....
Still, we hope the departing governor will not leave the state with a budget dependent on eliminating this huge obligation -- only to have it restored immediately by lawmakers and a newly installed Gov. Bob McDonnell at the cost of cuts of their choosing.
Sigh. The last line of the editorial picks up a bit on the issue discussed below:
At some point, local governments know, spending cuts become as painful as tax increases to people in their communities.