Some DMV customers wary of Wednesday closures

Gov. Mark R. Warner announced $858 million in cuts for the next two years last week, among them the closure of all Department of Motor Vehicles service centers on Wednesdays starting in November.

Many customers at the Manassas DMV office interviewed Monday afternoon were surprised to hear that.

“Ive been in there two hours,” said Felisberto Magelhaes of Manassas. “I think they need more help — not close them.”

Prince William has been fortunate. The DMV announced over the weekend that 12 centers across the state will close, including the Fair Oaks branch in Fairfax, the Sterling office in Loudoun, and its offices in Warrenton, Woodstock and Alexandria.

At the Manassas DMV, more than 80 people were in seats or standing.

Binod Sen of Woodbridge said the Manassas DMV is much faster than the Woodbridge branch. He said he was out quickly after renewing his license. “Beautiful place. It was quick.”

But if the state leaders cannot fund essential needs, Sen added, “Ill pay whatever is coming … everybody cries no matter whos who. If the money is needed, weve got to pay.”

But Virginia is tax-averse, and Warner and General Assembly leaders have steered clear of offering any tax proposals.

The schedule for fixing the states $2 billion budget gap will go like this: More exact forecasts of revenues and program growth in October and November, budgets and counter-proposals would be offered by the governor and legislators in December and January and arguments over responsibility and what cuts should be made in February and March.

All 50 states face an aggregate of at least $45.1 billion in budgetary shortfalls this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. For the first time in seven years, state taxes in the United States went up this year, with 16 states raising taxes for a net increase of $6.7 billion, according to the NCSL with 47 states reporting.

From 1995 to 2001, states cut taxes by $35.7 billion, or 8.1 percent, according to the NCSL.

“The states cut into their tax base. The revenue base was shrunk,” said NCSL budget analyst Arturo Perez.

Warner last week while announcing state job cuts of more than 2,000 positions warned that more impacts on Virginians are on the way — the toughest could include consolidation or elimination of state agencies and less funding for public schools, Medicaid, and police and sheriffs.

Off the table are income tax increases, said his spokeswoman, Ellen Qualls.

Warner made a campaign pledge not to raise taxes, but that “was about $6 billion ago in terms of what we knew,” so sin taxes can still be considered, she said.

Cigarette taxes made up more than half of the new taxes put in by states this year, Perez said.

Virginia has a tax of 2.5 cents per pack of cigarettes. Attempts to raise it did not make it out of committee in the last General Assembly.

“All the governor can do is cut the budget [until his budget proposal in December]. If citizens want something else to happen, they should contact their legislators,” Qualls said.

Similar Posts