Proposal Aimed at Stimulating Economy, Saving Lives

A Democratic lawmaker has introduced a car-tax relief bill with a new twist:  It would also tackle a major public health concern that costs Virginians $2 billion  per year in healthcare expenditures.

Arlington Delegate Patrick Hope says his bill would cut the remaining car-taxes that Virginians still pay in half.  “This is the only proposal that is being made in this session that will actually give money back to taxpayers.  So, we need to do this.  We need a shot in the arm for Virginia’s economy.  And I think working families are demanding it.”

Hope says re-prioritizing the tax code would fund it.

“We rank 50th in the nation in funding in cigarette and tobacco tax. And what this would do is bring our cigarette and tobacco tax to just the national average.  And the residual of those funds, which would raise about  $300 million, would be directly applied to the car tax.  And it would give real Virginia families real relief when they need it the most.”

That would raise the tax on cigarettes to $1.45 per pack, and on other tobacco products to 50% of the wholesale price.  The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids says the higher cost would prevent nearly 54,000 Virginia children from becoming smokers, prompt 56,000 adults to quit, and save more than 32,000 residents from a premature death.  Opponents say it would hurt retailers struggling in a tough economy.

–Anne Marie Morgan

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