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Va. Lawmakers Ax Hated Car Tax

March 18, 1998

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ The General Assembly on Tuesday night accepted a budget plan that gets rid of the state’s despised car tax, an issue that ignited the GOP’s first-ever sweep of Virginia’s top three offices.

The $40 billion, two-year state budget sets in motion a plan to essentially eliminate the car tax over five years.

``I think this is a big victory for the people of Virginia,″ said Gov. Jim Gilmore. ``It appears they are preparing to fund a plan that meets my requirements.″

Despite the passage, there was grumbling over how the state intends to make up for the income once the car tax is abolished, especially when Democrats demanded money for repairs and upgrades to public schools.

Budget conferees agreed to appropriate $447 million for the car tax cut and $110 million for schools.

They then decided to put aside all but $29 million needed for both and have Gilmore find the remaining funds, then return for a special session in late April to work out the details.

Gilmore’s pledge to slash Virginia’s car tax caught fire late in the campaign, propelling him to a landslide win and helping fellow Republicans win election to the offices of lieutenant governor and attorney general.

The budget also includes funding for 2,000 additional teachers for public elementary schools.

Teachers are slated to get 2.25 percent annual raises; college professors average annual increases of 5.75 percent. State employees were given roughly 6 percent raises over two years.

The budget also funds a program to help cover 83,000 uninsured poor children not already covered by Medicaid, the taxpayer-financed health-care program for the poor.

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