Manassas Journal Messenger | Md., Kilgore dig in for border battle with D.C.

Efforts to implement a commuter tax in the nation’s capital have at least one lawmaker in Maryland threatening a border war, while Virginia’s governor is calling for an end to the war of words.

Gov. Mark R. Warner said the dispute belongs in the courts, and Attorney General Jerry Kilgore promised Prince William officials Tuesday he will be do everything he can to fight the lawsuit brought by the District of Columbia.

Kilgore was responding to a July 24 letter sent by the Prince William Board of County Supervisors asking for assistance.

“I will oppose such a tax and will work with your locality and others to protect Virginia residents from this unfair and misguided attempt to tax them by the District of Columbia,” Kilgore wrote Tuesday.

Kilgore’s office will examine the lawsuit and then determine in what way they can assist, said Kilgore spokesman Tim Murtaugh. Kilgore’s office could intervene or file briefs or serve as an advisory role, depending on the lawsuit, he said.

Prince William Attorney Sharon Pandak is also examining the feasibility of intervening in the lawsuit, too.

Loudoun also requested Kilgore’s assistance.

The Montgomery County Council unanimously passed a resolution opposing the idea on Tuesday, saying the tax would hurt Maryland’s coffers, since the state typically offers a credit to residents to offset income taxes paid to other jurisdictions.

The move came five days after District of Columbia Mayor Anthony A. Williams and all 13 members of the D.C. Council filed a lawsuit to challenge the congressional prohibition of a District commuter tax.

Montgomery County Councilor Howard Denis, who co-sponsored the bill, suggested sending the resolution to state lawmakers.

”It angers me because it’s so bogus — it’s akin to declaring the Constitution unconstitutional,” Denis said. ”This a lawsuit testing whether or not Congress has the authority to prohibit the city from imposing a commuter tax — and Congress clearly has that authority,” he added.

County Councilor George Leventhal, said the county would feel pressure to impose a similar tax. ”We’re going to get into a border war,” Leventhal said.

Warner, on his radio call-in show, called for an end to the war of words, in which one D.C. councilman called Virginians ”backward” and ”narrow-minded” for opposing the tax.

Warner was asked why the district should not have the same right to levy a commuter tax as many metropolitan areas throughout the country.

”There is no other area like the national capital which receives a disproportionate share of federal dollars,” said Warner. ”D.C. should have the right to raise taxes on its own citizens as much as it would like. That’s a God-given American right. But the idea that somehow the district is going to go out and raise taxes on Virginia residents, that’s not something I support,” said Warner.

D.C. Councilor Jack Evans has suggested that the suburbs don’t want to pay their fair share of the capital city’s infrastructure.

Earlier this month, he said he said Virginians were ”living up to their reputation of being narrow-minded,” and that, ”When you think of people in Virginia, you think of them as backward, and they confirm it on something like this.”

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