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Economic problems in the 1990s


Democrat Leslie L. Byrne
Democrat Leslie L. Byrne

Despite remarkable progress, the state confronted significant problems during the final decade of the 20th century. Economic growth since World War II had been massive but uneven in impact, with northern Virginia and the Tidewater as the prime beneficiaries. Other regions, notably the rural Southwest and Southside, lagged behind. Across the state, suburbs prospered far more than inner cities, where unemployment, crime, drugs, and broken families exacted a demoralizing toll. Meanwhile, as new industries and businesses multiplied, older ones—particularly coal mines, commercial fisheries, tobacco farms, and cigarette factories—either stagnated or faced unpromising futures. Further complicating the situation, a growing number of Virginians questioned the wisdom of ongoing, ceaseless economic development, especially if it threatened Chesapeake Bay and other environmentally fragile natural areas. The 1990s also witnessed a widespread and deep-seated popular reaction against taxes, regulatory bureaucracies, and activist government.

Virginia remained a geographically divergent two-party state in the early 2000s, with Democrats strong in the north, near Washington, D.C., and Republicans strong in the more conservative south. The state faced mounting transportation problems in the early 21st century, especially in northern Virginia, where traffic gridlock and a deteriorating infrastructure frustrated motorists. Democratic governor Tim Kaine proposed a $1-billion tax increase to raise money for road and transportation improvements. But in a special legislative session, Democrats and Republicans failed to agree on where the money should come from. Republican legislators opposed a statewide tax increase until the state’s economy rebounded. "Virginia" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.

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