At least some state legislators are taking a stand against balancing budgets on the backs of the working class people who depend on social services. And they're not Democrats: The Virginia Republicans' plan, which passed the Republican-controlled Senate with Democratic votes in February, calls for raising cigarette, gas and sales taxes, as well as income taxes on the wealthy, to raise nearly $4 billion over two years. The plan would reduce taxes on food and on lower incomes. The additional revenue would be used to close gaps that Gov. Mark Warner predicts will recur for years to come. But the Senate would also sharply increase spending on salaries for state workers, prisons, health care, public schools and state universities, all of which they contend have been damaged by two years of drastic belt tightening. "We felt it was time to make a significant investment in Virginia," said Senator Thomas K. Norment Jr., the Republican floor leader, who, along with the Senate president, John H. Chichester, is a leading advocate of the plan. "I absolutely hate taxes, but as a colleague said, I love Virginia more."


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