You Say Fee, I Say Tax

The Legislature here in Virginia is moving quickly to overturn “abusive driver” fees that lawmakers and the governor signed into law last year.

The House passed a bill yesterday, and a state Senate committee followed suit today. One lawmaker said, “I think we crossed the line on public trust” by imposing the fees. Another who was a key proponent of the fees and initially called for revising the idea rather than repealing it now says repeal is inevitable.

You’d think that would be good news for all of us taxpayers in the commonwealth, but don’t count on it. Here’s what the delegate who reversed course said: “[W]ith the repeal, they’re going to realize I’m not as stupid as they thought because now they’re looking at a big fat gas tax increase” to cover the lost revenue.

That statement pretty effectively puts to the lie the idea that a “fee” is anything more than a “hidden tax.” I don’t like either one, but I’d rather lawmakers be forced to vote openly for or against tax hikes than hide behind radical fees.


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