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Ballot questions

Virginia voters venturing to the polls Tuesday will find three proposed modifications to the state constitution on the ballot, in addition to congressional candidates.

Question 1 concerns property tax exemptions for the elderly and permanently disabled. The state allows localities to give them either a full or partial break on real estate taxes, based on their income and net worth. But the state sets caps -- $50,000 in combined income and $200,000 in net worth -- and local governments that want to be more generous must petition the legislature for an exemption. A yes vote would remove the caps and give localities the flexibility to tailor their own programs.

Question 2 would exempt veterans with 100 percent service-related disabilities form paying property tax on their homes. The exemption would also apply to a surviving spouse who doesn't remarry and continues to live in the same property. Such veterans are currently subject to the locality's income and net worth requirements for tax relief. A yes vote would remove those restrictions.

Question 3 would raise the amount of money the state's Revenue Stabilization Fund can hold. Better known as the "rainy day fund," it is a cash reserve to help cushion budget cuts in recessions. However, to prevent the government from retaining cash reserves in flush times, the fund is limited by law to 10 percent of average tax revenue in the preceding three fiscal years. The amendment would change the formula to 15 percent of revenue, which proponents say is prudent, considering the growth of the state budget since the fund was made permanent in 1992 and the state's roller-coaster economy, which has necessitated tapping the fund five times in the last eight years. A yes vote would raise the limit on the rainy day fund.

All three initiatives were approved by separate General Assembly sessions and none are controversial or objectionable.


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