Amidst all the rhetoric flying around Richmond today as General Assembly committees began working on actual bills is the reality that this Special Tax Session is much more a exercise in politics than in policy. But that has likely been Governor Tim Kaine's strategy all along.
First, it is clear that Kaine's tax increase plan is dead in the water. He has even been unable to get a patron for his bill in the Democrat controlled Senate. Republicans are slamming him for not having any consensus on a plan before bringing the General Assembly back into town. Of course, the governor knew that nothing was going to pass this week. Look for him to use this and slam Republicans for the next year and a half for blocking a fix for transportation.
Republicans, on the other hand, still don't seem to have a consensus either. While they are opposed to Kaine's plan, there isn't a single Republican plan that a majority seems to support. The House strategy is to do as little as possible until the Senate acts, if at all, on Kaine's plan. Why bring it up if the governor can't even get it through the body controlled by his own party? They are hopeful that they can get some potential statewide candidates on record supporting tax increases by other means. Their internal polls show absolutely no support for tax increases, so they are happy to ride it out.
But, as one Senate Republican told me, "At least that's their strategy today. Who knows what it'll be tomorrow."
Some good news — yet another attempt to raise revenue by expanding gambling in Virginia died in a Senate committee today.