WashPost: Willing to Hike Taxes = 'Maturing' In Office

March 5th, 2007 11:50 AM

"As many political observers see it, [Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William] Howell is maturing into the leadership role he took on four years ago," wrote The Washington Post's Tim Craig in today's paper. And what exactly is developing the Republican speaker into an upstanding young chap?

Nothing more than a newfound willingness to raise taxes in the Old Dominion.

Here's the first two paragraphs of Craig's Metro section front pager:

RICHMOND -- Last summer, Virginia House Speaker William J. Howell and Senate President John H. Chichester almost forced a government shutdown when the two Republicans couldn't agree on a budget compromise that involved higher taxes for transportation.

This year, however, Howell has charted a new path for House Republicans, requiring many conservative delegates to swallow voting for some tax and fee increases to pay for road and transit projects.

Of course, Craig notes, Howell still has some growing up to do if he wants to be as mature as Democratic Governor Tim Kaine:

Howell, 63, will be in the spotlight for at least another month as his conservative, anti-tax style of politics clashes with Kaine's desire to achieve a more comprehensive solution to pay for new roads and mass transit.

The GOP plan calls for regional taxes and fees in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, although local officials must approve them to spend the money in their own area. The plan also calls for a statewide $10 increase in vehicle registrations, higher taxes on diesel fuel and borrowing $2.5 billion, as well as land use reforms.

Kaine said he plans to amend the Republican-backed bill, perhaps to include additional taxes and fees, so less money is diverted from other government services.