Hampton Roads

Inside The Tax Increase Numbers: The Laundry List Of What Will Be Taxed And By How Much

Here's the list of what will be taxed and by how much in the proposed "transportation tax increase" now before both chambers of the General Assembly. Not angry yet? Read on:

» A 3.5  percent wholesale sales tax paid by distributors would replace the current 17.5 cents per gallon flat tax on gasoline. The new tax, though, will be passed on to consumers, along with a 6 percent wholesale sales tax on diesel fuel.

» The 5 percent retail sales and use tax paid statewide on most purchases will increase to 6 percent in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, and to 5.3 percent in the rest of the state.

» A $100 annual fee will be levied on alternative fuel vehicles, including hybrids.

» The sales tax on the purchase of cars (new or used) will increase from 3 percent to 4 percent.

» In Northern Virginia, the tax on house sales will increase by 40 cents per hundred dollars. That's an extra $1,600 on the sale of a $400,000 home.

» Also in Northern Virginia, the occupancy tax for hotels will increase 2 percent.

» If Congress passes the Marketplace Equity Act (which requires online businesses to collect sales taxes) the proceeds will be distributed as follows: 55.55 percent for schools; 22.2 percent for local governments with no restrictions; and 22.2 percent for roads and transit.

» If Congress does not pass the Internet sales tax collections act, an additional 1.6  percent tax will be added to the wholesale gas tax.

» There is no guarantee that these new revenues will be spent entirely on transportation since the Senate, twice this session (including today) defeated a proposed constitutional amendment to lock away transportation funds from general fund spending. The Senate has defeated this needed reform for years.

» There is no guarantee that the General Assembly or a future governor won't come back for more tax increases.

» All of these tax increases are on top of the newly increased "fiscal cliff" tax increases by Congress and President Obama and pending local tax increases many Virginia jurisdictions are looking into, such as meals and property tax increases.

If all this isn't enough, there has not been a good faith effort to cut spending in other areas and reapportion it to transportation. Now are you angry?

Please immediately contact your Delegate (click here) and your Senator (click here) and urge them to vote against this massive tax hike scheme!

Urge Defeat Of Massive Tax Increase!

Yesterday, ten members of the General Assembly presented a "compromise" tax and spending proposal that includes a substantial increase in taxes and fees for a large portion of Virginia, particularly residents of Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. Facts about the plan reveal that not all the new revenue is even going to transportation.

Please immediately contact your Delegate (click here) and your Senator (click here) and urge them to vote against this massive tax hike scheme!

Among the taxes that will increase are the state's sales tax, the sales tax on car purchases, and local taxes in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. Worse, not all the new revenue will be spent on transportation. According to today's Richmond Times Dispatch:

Not all of the 0.3 percent increase in sales tax goes to transportation. Part of the overall revenue generated by the increased tax would go toward an increase in education funding and other general fund priorities.

The fact is that outside of a constitutional amendment, how Virginia spends our tax dollars can be changed every year through the budget and budget amendments. This plan is no different. In fact, the Senate today again killed, for the second time this session (as it has for years), a proposed constitutional amendment to keep transportation funding off limits to future non-transportation spending whims. So while the fiscal needs for transportation are obvious, those who argue that this plan is going to "solve the problem" of transportation in Virginia are fooling themselves.

This plan is not just a tax increase, but new across the board spending. Make no mistake, if you live in the urban crescent or plan to or need to purchase a new or used car in the future, you are going to pay higher taxes. The idea that our gas prices are going down as a result of replacing the antiquated gas tax with a wholesale gas tax are, honestly, foolish. The plan calls for the elimination of the gas tax (17.5 cents per gallon) with a wholesale gas tax increase, which proponents of the plan indicate will be the equivalent of a 10 cent per gallon tax. The consensus, however, is that the "savings" will not be passed on to the consumer, so we will continue to pay higher prices at the pump.

It's disappointing that those involved in the negotiations of this plan couldn't come up with a solution to our transportation needs that didn't include placing even more financial burden on already struggling families and small businesses in the face of even more national fiscal uncertainty. Unfortunately, there is a lack of political will in Richmond to fix one of the biggest problems we face (outside of federal mandates that continue to destroy our state economy) — an antiquated and irresponsible public school funding formula that costs billions of dollars for more and more administration and fewer teachers. There's no doubt that the issues faced are complex and difficult, but this plan is simply not the best solution for Virginia's families.

Please contact your Delegate (click here) and your Senator (click here) immediately and urge them to vote against the tax increase!

Post: Griffith And Hurt Land Key Committee Assignments, Rigell Awaits Armed Services

According to Ben Pershing a little while ago at the Washington Post's Virginia Politics blog, Virginia freshmen GOP Representatives Morgan Griffith (VA-09) and Robert Hurt (VA-05) will land on two key committees: Energy and Commerce and Financial Services, respectively. While liberal soon-to-be former Representative Rick Boucher, whom Griffith defeated, served on Energy and Commerce, no Virginia member currently sits on the equally powerful Financial Services committee, making that a huge score for Hurt. On the downside, he'll have to put up with Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who will assume the position of ranking member (see Housing Wire) after four disastrous years as its chairman. Freshmen appointments to both committees is unusual (even Boucher had to wait a few terms before his gig started). The news especially was welcome for Hurt who made national headlines last month at the every-two-year-ritual House office lottery for freshman, where he had the misfortune of drawing the highest number and, therefore, the least desirable office space (see Jake Gibson at FoxNews.com). He needed the office karma of Kirk Cox. As for Virginia's other freshman GOP House member, Scott Rigell (VA-02) is awaiting, but expected to get, a spot on the Armed Services Committee, an assignment Virginians from either party from that district almost always get because of the large military presence in Hampton Roads.

New Term For Virginia Campaign Lexicon: "Buena Vista-Style Politics." Pictures Of Labor Day MisDeeds!

The term "Chicago thug politics" has been used to describe some events in national campaigns over the last two years or so — a conviction in the Midwest of a liberal activist who slashed tires on a conservative get-out-the-vote van on election day and all of the forged and made-up voter registration signatures from ACORN last year, come to mind. But after an eyewitness account and the pictures below were sent to me, we may have a new term for campaign misDeeds.

Although less physically intimidating than tire slashing and not quite the level as felony vote fraud, it seems liberal activists are practicing a more deft style intimidation in this year's statewide elections. It may not have started at the traditional Labor Day Parade in Buena Vista, but it was well documented there. Thus, the term, "Buena Vista-Style Politics." However, as the campaign now heats up, we're sure this kind of activity is only the tip of the Angry Left Spear.

Here is the eyewitness account:

Basically, McDonnell and Bolling's crews came in early on Saturday/Sunday to set up signs in preparation for the parade. Deeds' crew, plus purple shirted SEIU folks, acted overnight Sunday to cover those signs with Deeds' signs, sometimes stapling signs over the top of the big 4x8 foot signs. The locals said they'd never seen anything like it in all the years that they've been having this event. Chicago thug style politics have arrived in Va.

. . . . see how Deeds signs covered all of McD's signs. This was EVERYWHERE. It was truly a disgraceful display, with the Dirty Deeds crew in all their full regalia. I have started to refer to the CreighP Deeds' sign with the blue stripe with the white stripe down the middle as 'the road to nowhere' sign. Sigh.

BuenaVista2009_007

Before: This baseball backstop is dominated by signs for the GOP statewide candidates and Delegate Ben Cline. Notice that Democrat gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds only has signs on the second row and a few small signs (appropriately) on the left side.

BuenaVista2009_009

 After: Everything but the top row Bob McDonnell signs and one Bill Bolling and Ken Cuccinelli sign are covered with the small Deeds signs. Union muscle at work for Deeds.

Also FWIW one of the Bolling volunteers told my husband that Sunday night while they were putting up signs one SEIU type held a crowbar and shouted, 'Who wants to get their ass kicked by a liberal?' Lovely.

BuenaVista2009_010

 Here, two large Bill Bolling signs, obviously there first, were covered up by lefty union workers for Deeds and delegate candidate Jeff Price.

We also have pictures of another instance of Deeds' crew standing guard while others plant his signs in front of prepositioned McDonnell signs. We hope to get them up later.

Furthermore, thanks to Bearing Drift, we have this picture of a large McDonnell sign defaced with Deeds stickers. But what makes this distasteful is that the Deeds crew went on to a McDonnell supporter's private property in the Hampton Roads area to do their mischief — and was caught! According to Bearing Drift, one of the red-handed begged that the police not be called, while another of the perps was recognized as a paid Deeds Hampton Roads staffer.

Hampton Roads McD sign deface

Doing dirty deeds but begging for mercy. What else do you expect from liberals?   

So, as the boys from South Park would say, "We've learned something today." We've learned that despite what we're taught, the early bird ethic and initiative have no place in liberalism. Be lazy, but use your muscle, and overcome others' hard work. Then, expect a double standard, because it's due you (for no discernible reason) and not be held to account for you illegal actions. I can't think of anything better that exemplifies what we see in liberal policies than in Buena Vista-Style Politics.

Creigh On Abortion, Part Deux

Last week Democrat candidate for governor Creigh Deeds thrust the abortion issue into the race for Virginia's top spot by proclaiming his support for abortion loudly and clearly at press conferences beginning in NOVA. This weekend, while speaking on a religious radio program in Hampton Roads, Creigh was, well, not so bold.

Our friends over at Bearing Drift have the audio clip where Senator Deeds seems to imply that only women who are "poor or desparate" choose abortion. Not a line he used while addressing his friends at NARAL and Planned Parenthood last week in NOVA. I wonder how they feel about Creigh's new message? Last week he "trusted" women to make the "choice." This week its only the "poor" or "desperate." Next week?

Interestingly, Creigh's apologists on the Washington Post editorial board seem to suddenly care about the abortion issue once again. After claiming so many times in recent years that its a non-issue in elections, they are suddenly concerned about Bob McDonnell's abortion record.  

Perhaps the Post should send Creigh his talking points this time, instead of the other way around?

Virginia News Stand: April 14, 2009

Tomorrow is the big day across Virginia and America. Hundreds of Tax Day Tea Parties are going on and millions are expected to attend. Kind of makes today's news tame by comparison. That does raise a question, though: How will the Mainstream Media cover these Tea Parties, if at all? Look for the angry, right-wing wacko slant, especially from the national media. As for today, Democrat gubernatorial candidate T-Mac offers the quadrennial liberal bow and scrape to the teachers' union, while one of his primary opponents, Senator Creigh Deeds of Bath, outlines a plan to make higher ed more affordable. Meanwhile, House races are heating up in Hampton Roads and Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell reports on his fundraising as a new ad is launched targeting him.

Nationally, the Kansas abortionist George Tiller may have walked in his trial, but his legal troubles aren't over; a new "hate crimes" bill in Congress would stifle pastors' free speech; and if you think Virginia Republicans have chairman trouble, wait to you read what the Massachusetts chair told a homosexual publication. (Hint: She's not into the culture wars.)

Finally, please read why Star Parker thinks Christian conservatism, contrary to its proclaimed demise by national pundits, is only getting started. Stay dry today and we'll see you tomorrow. Bring the tea. 

News:

McAuliffe wants to give teachers a raise, help with loans (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Deeds unveils plan to make college more affordable (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

NBC's Andrea Mitchell to moderate Va. Democrats' debate (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

McDonnell reports fundraising for gubernatorial race (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

TV Ad Evokes Va. Tech to Challenge McDonnell on Gun Sales (Washington Post)

House of Delegates campaigns shaping up in Hampton Roads (The Daily Press)

Kaine takes up for Virginia's jobless (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Va. Lawmakers Split on What's Best for Workers, Employers (Washington Post)

National News:

Mass. GOP leader 'insults' conservative Republicans (OneNewsNow.com)

Clergy in the crosshairs (OneNewsNow.com)

Tiller's legal troubles not over yet (OneNewsNow.com)

Opinion:

Christian conservatism just getting started (OneNewsNow.com)

More On The Tea Parties

As you well know, in 1773, colonists gathered to dump imported tea into the Boston Harbor to protest the British government's oppressive tax system that allowed for no direct representation. At the Boston Tea Party, determined colonists stood against the expanding British authority and said no more! Expanding government authority . . . sound familiar? Are you tired of bailouts, stimulus packages, endless national debt and increasing subsidization? Do you practice financial responsibility and watch those who do not get rewarded by the government? Along with many other Americans, are you frustrated by our government reaching its hand out to take far more than it needs?

If so, join thousands of Americans on Tax Day, April 15, at your local Tax Day Tea Party to express your frustration over our out of control government and its redistributive economic policies. Whether you are Democrat or Republican, Libertarian, conservative or liberal, all are welcome in this stand against unrestrained government. This true grassroots movement is spreading with Tea Parties planned across the nation.

While those who gather will not be throwing crates of tea into a harbor, many of the Tea Parties will feature speakers, patriotic activities, music and welcomed audience participation. Below is a list of confirmed Virginia Tax Day Tea Parties. Visit the national Web HQ, TaxDayTeaParty, (click here) for more information, to RSVP, or to volunteer.

Virginia Tax Day Tea Parties: (Click here for a Virginia specific Web site. All parties scheduled for April 15 unless otherwise noted.)

Abingdon Time:  5:00 p.m. Location: TBD Information: www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=75478635585

Charlottesville Time: 3-6:00 p.m. Location: Downtown Mall by the Pavilion Information: http://vateaparty.wordpress.com

Franklin County Time: Noon Location: In front of the Franklin County Courthouse (40 E. Court Street in Rocky Mount) Information: http://franklincountyteaparty.blogspot.com

Lynchburg Time: 6:00 p.m. Location: Downtown Lynchburg — Waterfront Information: www.lynchburgtaxdayteaparty.blogspot.com

Northern Virginia Shenandoah Valley Time: Noon Location: Front of Old Frederick County Courthouse Old Town Walking Mall, Winchester

Peninsula/Newport News Time: 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Location: Oyster Point City Center Fountain Plaza in Newport News Information: http://newportnewsteaparty.wordress.com

Reston Time: 6-8:00 p.m. Location: Lake Anne Village Center (1609 Washington Plaza)

Richmond Time: 6-7:30 p.m. Location: Kanawha Plaza, South 8th St. (near Federal Reserve Building) Information: www.richmondteaparty.com/ Video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ndr_vK0akAM

Roanoke Time: 5-7:00 p.m. Location: Wiley Drive (near footbridge to old Victory Stadium)

Virginia Beach/Hampton Roads Time: 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Location: Virginia Beach Town Center Fountain Plaza Information: http://taxdayteaparty.wordpress.com/, http://budurl.com/hrteaparty   College of William and Mary/Williamsburg (April 11) Time: April 11, 1-2:15 p.m. Location: Crim Dell Amphitheater at the College of William and Mary

John Cook's Win Shows Anything's Possible . . . For Either Party

(Admin's note: This was posted under a different heading on March 12, but because of a technical glitch, we lost it. It is re-posted here in an edited form, but with basically the same content. Sorry for any confusion.) Early returns often are misleading, not to mention election results themselves so soon after a major campaign. However, there are some signs GOP candidates maybe running effective campaigns in Northern Virginia and elsewhere.

First, there was the skin-of-the-teeth, 16-vote-win by Democrat Charniele Herring over Republican Joe Murray to win the lock-stock Democrat 46th House of Delegates district seat in a January special election necessitated when Brian Moran resigned to run for governor full time. Not long after that, Democrat Sharon Bulova barely defeated Republican Patrick Herrity in a special election for Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman.

Moral victories for Republicans, maybe, but then came an actual win: Last week,  Republican John Cook squeaked by Democrat Ilryong Moon in the Braddock district supervisor seat vacated by Bulova (see Washington Post here). It's a district that went 57 percent for Barack Obama. His win changes the Fairfax County Board from an 8-2 Democrat majority to a 7-3 majority. Cook's win shows Northern Virginia may still be competitive and just as Republicans may have taken central Virginia and Hampton Roads for granted in recent years, allowing Democrat candidates to gain significant vote totals there, perhaps Democrats have taken its base lightly as well.

Republican statewide candidates don't need to win Northern Virginia to win elections, but they must be competitive and not get blown out, as were George Allen and Jerry Kilgore. Holding Dem victories to small margins upstate will be the test of the GOP ticket this fall; restoring large margins the test for the Dems.

Nationally, the moribund House Republican Campaign Committee may finally win a special election of its own. One indicator that it was in trouble leading up to the 2006 and 2008 campaigns were its losses in special elections in districts that had been Republican for years, including the one held by former Speaker Dennis Hastert as well as one in Mississippi.

Now comes word the GOP may be favored to pick up the New York House seat vacated by former Representative Kirsten Gillibrand to fill Hillary Clinton's Senate seat. According to The Post's The Fix blog (click here), while the Democrats' House campaign kitty is more than $16 million in the red, the GOP has some money to spend. It's a district that typically votes Republican in presidential elections, but Gillibrand proved to be an effective campaigner. Pundits say victory here could create momentum for yet more fundraising, which could be directed here in Virginia, a win considered especially crucial if the national GOP has intentions of a full rebound.

Welcome, Attorney General Bob McDonnell!

General McDonnell, thank you for joining us today for the second consecutive year for our Annual Virtual Lobby. Today, hundreds of grassroots, traditional values conservatives are e-mailing their delegates and senators and asking them to stand up for pro-life, pro-traditional marriage and limited constitutional government principles, as well as for particular issues and bills. We also are hosting our Annual Pastors Day today with dozens of pastors from the Southwest to Hampton Roads here lobbying their legislators. Combined with our Family Foundation Day at the Capitol in January, where more than 250 people attended, we hope to have made a big impact on this year's General Assembly session and beyond.

So it's with a great deal of pleasure that we welcome you today and yield the blog screen to you for a round of robust questions.

Reworking A Bad Plan Can Make It Worse (Or, The Son Of 3202 Rises)

The Special Tax Session of the General Assembly resumes tomorrow and anything can happen. Some capitol insiders are predicting the session could end by the end of the day, with nothing done. That would be good. Some think the House could pass some watered down Senate tax increase, send it back to Senate Majority Leader Dick "The People Will Pay" Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) and his crowd down the hall, who will change it and take it to a conference committee, which would be dangerous enough. But others think that if anything gets out of the House, Senate Dems will pass it immediately and let Governor Tim Kaine amend it to include all the extra taxes his heart desires (we'd say that would be Christmas in July for the liberals, except many don't believe . . . oh, never mind) and send it back for an up or down vote. If that version passes, it would be a Kaine victory at the expense (literally) of the public; a taxpayer loss. If nothing happens, believe your bottom dollar (that may be all you have left right now) that the governor and the Dems will demonize conservatives as not wanting to address the transportation "crisis." 

They better be careful for what they ask. It may be anecdotal, but evidence is the public, across all lines, doesn't seem to have much of an appetite for tax increases when gas is at $4.00 a gallon and all the ripple effect cost increases it is causing. Senator Saslaw during the regular session was fond of saying that his gas tax increase would cost the equivalent of one Big Mac meal per year. Actually, it was closer to a Ruth Chris dinner, but regardless, most families don't even have a Big Mac to cut back right now.

Not only that, but his proposal in the winter was a 5-cent increase over five years. Now, I guess because he wants us to cut back on apple turnovers, too, his bill would increase the gas tax by six cents over six years (SB 6009). That's a 35-percent increase. It doesn't appear as if this will pass. The House Republican leadership let it come to the floor in a procedural move in committee to force House Dems to vote on recordin anticipation of next year's House elections. The money is on many House Dems getting cold feet on this one.

However (there's always a "however"), the House GOP doesn't want to get left out of the game. They want to be sure no one can claim they have no ideas themselves, so instead of no ideas they are proposing old and bad ideas. They want to "fix" the aspect of last year's transportation package (HB 3202) that the Virginia Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional. This new package, HB 6055, patroned by Delegate Phil Hamilton (R-93, Newport News) is more complex, but is also harmful to taxpayers and the economy. Its main feature is to give local governments in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia taxing authority in certain areas so as to spend it themselves for transportation, rather than the original, and unconstitutional, law that let unelected boards tax and spend. (To be fair, the original bill passed by the House in 2007 was to give local governments the authority; the governor amended it to give it to the unelected boards, and bipartisan majorities in the General Assembly concurred.)

While many legislators may make the political calculation that by "simply fixing" last year's plan (by voting for HB 6055) Virginians won't consider it a vote to raise taxes, they may be calculating wrong. People want the General Assembly to make hard decisions instead of asking for more money from families — again. Smart citizens know fixing a bad plan often makes it still worse. 

Among the various taxes in HB 6055 is one particularly heinous tax — a $.40 per $100 increase in the "grantor's tax" in Northern Virginia. This is a tax home sellers pay at closing. As home sales continue to plummet, and some of those sales are "short" (sold for less than what is owed on it), such a tax is reckless. 

Earlier this month, while detailing the state's current financial picture, Secretary of Finance Jody Wagner revealed a devastating downward trend in home sales to the House Appropriations Committee. At the time, several Republicans appropriately drilled Secretary Wagner regarding Governor Kaine's transportation proposal that included a grantor's tax. It would be peculiar for those same legislators to agree to one now, but this is the General Assembly, after all. Regardless of whether the tax is introduced by Democrats or Republicans, the governor, the Senate or the House, the effect on the housing industry is the same — it will ensure a housing recession.

HB 6055 also includes a $20 increase in the car inspection fee in Hampton Roads, an extra $100 fee on those who receive their first drivers license (in N.Va.), a hotel tax (N.Va.) and a rental car tax (in both areas), among others. Americans For Tax Reform mailed each legislator who signed its No Tax Pledge that a vote to pass the tax-increasing buck to localities is still a tax increase and violates the pledge.

Four years ago, then-Governor Mark Warner cited education, health and public safety to pass the largest tax hike in the Commonwealth's history. Apparently, in 2004, transportation was no longer the "crisis" Warner had said it was in 2002 when he tried unsuccessfully to pass regional sales tax hikes for transportation via referenda in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia. Now, Governor Kaine and some allies in the legislature have decided to dust off the transportation "crisis" to raise taxes. This action comes only a few months after they proposed raiding the Transportation Trust Fund for non-transportation expenditures.

Some of the same lawmakers who opposed a constitutional amendment restricting the Transportation Trust Fund to transportation-only spending now support a tax hike.  Even Governor Kaine, prior to his election, endorsed a "lock-box" to secure transportation funds from general fund spending and tax increases. Three years later, he has done nothing to support efforts to secure one. So what we're left with is a thinly veiled attempt to raise taxes on Virginia's families simply to raise money, not specifically for transportation. 

Besides that, it appears HB 6055 is more flexible than a Russian gymnast. Specific projects are to be carried out "in consultation with members of the General Assembly" — whatever that might mean. Sadly, the level of linguistic complexity required to raise some taxes in some areas, that affect only some people in order to fix some transportation needs, all while appearing as if no taxes are being raised, makes for a legislative nightmare.     

The bottom line is that for over a decade the General Assembly has bowed to the powerful education union and funded public education incorrectly, refused to reduce spending in pet projects, and counted on Virginians to pony up under the threat of disaster. If this mentality doesn't change now, in difficult economic times, what will it be like in good times? Believe me, it will be Bonnie and Clyde all over again, with a new crisis (health care or Medicare, perhaps?) and guess who they think is the bank?

The good news is that this can be stopped. Many legislators are being pressured by big-time lobbyists of big businesses who will benefit from government spending, from the teachers union which wants to ensure their portion of the pie isn't touched, and other special interest groups. But when enough concerned voters let their senators and delegates know enough is enough, it gives them the courage to resist the special interest pressures (click here to contact them). Instead of raising taxes, it is time for them to get some new ideas, such as comprehensive spending and budget reform.

You Can't Run, You Can't Hide: Saslaw Makes Quote Of The Day

What's with the tone of big-government, tax-raising types? First it was a series of quotes from Governor Tim Kaine, such as his disdainful "There's no free lunch" mantra along with telling low-tax activists to "Stay off the roads." Yesterday, in something reminiscent of a vigilante movie, Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield) provided the taxpayers of Virginia a reminder as subtle as a Mike Tyson uppercut as to what his intentions are with their hard-earned money:

"One way or another, people are going to pay."

This, after his six-cents-a-gallon gas-tax-increase-bill progressed in the Senate yesterday while he and his Senate Democrat colleagues killed two bills that would raise revenue for transportation and cost taxpayers nada: Senator Frank Wagner's (R-7 , Virginia Beach) bill for offshore drilling and Senator Ken Stolle's (R-8, Virginia Beach) bill to use future profits from the Port of Virginia. (Aren't new and improved roads supposed to benefit our state-owned ports' increased economic activity? Why not, then, use some of their own profits?) (To read more, click here for an article at hamptonroads.com.)

For some of Senator Saslaw's more outrageous comments from last General Assembly session, click here and here; for his admission of his own voracious tax-dollar-spending appetite, click here; and click here for his mastery of the bicameral legislative system; and, in a quote that pre-dated U.S. Senator Barack Obama's "bitter . . . and clinging to their guns and religion" comment, click here.)

At least there is some progress in Senator Saslaw's rhetoric: He's no longer saying his tax increases will cost about as much as "One Big Mac." But stay tuned. The Special Tax Session is still young. Senator Saslaw is just getting warmed up.

Poll: What Do You Think Should Happen At The Special Tax Session?

We all know what the governor and many legislators want to happen at The Special Tax Session starting June 23. But what do you think should happen? Then, after you vote, post your solutions, ideas and comments on this thread. Who knows? Maybe somebody in the General Assembly will like what you think. Remember our lottery idea? If you are creative enough, anything is possible. Voting ends June 25.

Poll: What Do You Think Will Happen At The Special Tax Session?

There are a lot of proposed ideas for the upcoming Special Tax Session of the General Assembly. Here are a few that have been floated. Which one will prevail? Or will nothing at all happen? How should Virginia tackle its transportation problems? Let us know what you think and post your ideas on this thread after you vote. Voting ends June 25.

Truth In Reporting: The Special Tax Session

Governor Tim Kaine surprised absolutely no one when he rolled out his transportation — er, make that tax — plan Monday. It includes nearly $1 billion tax and fee increases under the guise of fixing transportation for what he and the media mistakenly call a transportation special session of the General Assembly to begin June 23. Truth in reporting requires us to call it a Special Tax Session. Governor Kaine's plan doesn' leave out much. It increases the sales tax in Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia from 5 to 6 percent, something rejected by voters in those regions in 2002. Governor Kaine also would have us pay more for cars by increasing from 3 to 4 percent the motor-vehicle titling tax as well as another $10 increase in the cost to register our vehicles. Governor Kaine doesn't stop there: He also proposes an increase in the grantor's, or property seller's tax, of 10 cents per $100, just as the real estate market is tanking. Detect a theme here?

How anyone can fathom adding a tax to house sales right now, on top of the fee for mortgage and refinance originations as part of former Democrat Governor Mark Warner's 2004 record tax increase? (By the way, does he like his successor's plan?) What does this show of Governor Kaine's understanding of basic economics? Why do he and other liberals complain about getting branded as big taxers and spenders when they thoughtlessly and reflexively propose more tax increases for every problem (real or imagined)? The fact that spending cuts and prioritizing never seriously are considered shows a true lack of imagination, leadership and courage.

There are at least two reasons why we do not support increasing taxes for "fixing transportation." One is the lack of a constitutional amendment to protect Virginia's Transportation Trust Fund from being raided. The other is the depression era law that controls how Virginia funds its transportation needs. Until those two issues are resolved, Virginians should not be asked to send more money to Richmond to fund a broken system.

It is a misnomer that conservatives are anti-tax. We're anti-tax increases when taxpayer money is wasted on useless programs that often are counterproductive, when taxpayer money is not used for constitutional purposes, when politicians want to start new programs (especially during a shaky economy) to buy their "legacy" (pre-K, anyone?), and when government is so big and bloated that waste and abuse are rampant. When spending is cut in real terms and re-prioritized, and only constitutional functions of government are funded, then let's talk about taxes.

Let The Special Tax Increase Session Begin!

We don't like saying we told you so, but we did (last week, click here). Governor Tim Kaine's "transportation plan" is nothing more than another massive tax-increase plan, as he will officially announce in a few minutes at the Capitol. Click here to see the Richmond Times-Dispatch's preview. If at first you don't succeed . . . try, try again to stick the taxpayers royally — as in the 2006 General Assembly when he, Mark Warner-like, broke his "no tax increase" pledge and proposed a whopper of one, topping his predecessor's 2004 largest-in-Virginia-history, $1.4 billion increase. So don't call the special session, to start June 23, a "transportation" session. Call it "The Tax Increase Session." Governor Kaine has got it all going on:   

  • A $10 increase in vehicle registration fees;
  • An increase in the state's auto titling tax from 3 percent to 4 percent;
  • A 1-cent regional sales-tax increase in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads (even though voters in those regions rejected that in referenda in 2002 and polls continue to show hostility toward them); and
  • A statewide increase in the grantors tax, a tax paid when you sell your house.

So let's see: Governor Kaine hits families for about $20 per year more, for the typical two-car family (on top of previous vehicle registration increases); increases the sales tax for people who want to buy a new (most likely, gas-efficient) car; make all goods more expensive with a sales-tax increase; and allow you to keep less of your equity when you sell your home, just as home values are dropping steadily while property taxes continue to rage upward. Plus, nowhere is there mention of (as he also promised in campaign 2005) a locking up of transportation funds which he has tried to divert before. Nice!

The governor really knows his economics. Even the Washington Post today quotes a study saying Governor Kaine's plan hurts the poor the most (click here). (It takes a study to know this? And whatever happened to the Democrats standing up for the working poor?)

Beginning tomorrow night in Northern Virginia and again Thursday in Hampton Roads, according to the T-D, the governor will host a series of town hall meetings across the Commonwealth. A preview? According to the T-D article, Kaine told "Perspectives" host Barbara Berlin of Richmond PBS affiliate WCVE:

"I'm expecting [lawmakers] to step up to the bar and do the right thing for Virginia."

So the "right thing" is for Virginia's hard-working families to suck it up one more time; take one for team during an economic slowdown; all so Governor Kaine can purchase his legacy at our expense? Why is the "right thing" always taking away our hard-earned income? We think, in a $78 billion budget, the right thing is to rearrange priorities, eliminate waste and end useless programs that, if cut, no one would miss. Then the governor could pave our beautiful state all he wants and leave us taxpayers alone.