10.01.2008 0

Virginia House of Delegates Sends $1.1 Billion Tax Increase to Floor for Vote

  • On: 10/14/2008 16:59:24
  • In: Taxes

  • This could be 2004 all over again. Back then, several Republican traitors voted for a $1.6 billion tax increase against the best wishes of Virginians. And at present, the Republican-controlled House of Delegates has allowed a Senate Democrat plan to raise the gasoline tax by 6 cents per gallon to the floor for a vote by the 100 member legislative body.

    The Washington Examiner is reporting that the plan, sponsored by Senator Dick Saslaw, would raise taxes and fees by a total of $1.1 billion:

    “The Senate’s proposal, championed by ardent gas-tax proponent and Majority Leader Richard Saslaw, D-Springfield, would raise $719 million in statewide revenue by fiscal 2015 through the 6-cent gas-tax increase, as well as by increasing the auto titling tax by 0.5 percent and the sales tax by 0.25 percent, excluding food and drugs.

    “Saslaw’s plan would pump another $381 million into Northern Virginia, which would be subject to a 0.5 percent sales tax increase, a 40-cent per $100 value increase on the tax on selling a home and a $5-per-day levy on staying at a hotel.”

    It looks like Republicans in the House could be caving, and with only 53 members plus independents that caucus with the GOP in the 100 seat body, it will take precious few defections to help the $1.1 billion tax increase to pass both houses. Speaker Bill Howell is taking an awful risk by putting this on the floor.

    Besides, doesn’t gasoline cost enough already?

    To date, Republicans in the House have stated that they only support revisiting Virginia’s regional funding schemes to pay for transportation, which were previously struck down by the Virginia Supreme Court because they allowed unelected bureaucrats to raise taxes without legislative approval.

    That new plan being sponsored by Delegates Phil Hamilton (R-Newport News) and Dave Albo (R-Fairfax) would increase vehicle registration and inspections fees in Hampton Roads, and institute a $100 fee to get a new driver’s license in Northern Virginia.

    The Free-Lance Star speculates that the Democrat’s bill to raise the gas tax will not actually pass the House because it was sent to the floor “without recommendation.” Democrats are already crying foul, according to the article:

    “‘They want to try to embarrass us by voting on a gas tax,’ said House Minority Leader Del. Ward Armstrong, D-Henry. ‘It’s part of the political process, gamesmanship.’”

    Perhaps. Or maybe, based on the propensity of certain Republicans in the House to vote for tax increases, they actually mean to get it passed. Virginians will find out in short order, as a vote is scheduled on or after July 9th, when the legislature comes back into session.

    Not that it matters much, as both parties apparently agree on increasing the tax and fee burden on Virginians, and are merely quibbling over who should get the increase.

    Missing from all of these proposals is a willingness to examine the possibility of cutting spending as a means of paying for transportation projects. Fortunately, at least one delegate is looking at that possibility according to the Washington Post:

    “House Republicans want an independent audit of how the Virginia Department of Transportation is spending tax dollars.

    “‘House Republicans want to make sure government is functioning properly before even considering asking for more money from hardworking families,’ said Del. Samuel A. Nixon Jr. (R-Chesterfield).”

    Under that scenario, there may yet be hope of fixing Virginia’s roads without increasing the tax and fee burden on residents. They should expand that audit to the entire Virginia budget, and assuredly lawmakers would find the funds they are looking for.

    It is a proposal that the Commonwealth’s GOP ought to seriously consider, and not allow a repeat of 2004 to take place again.

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