Senator Frank Wagner Virginia Beach

Absolutely Nothing

As the Special Tax Session approached, we posed two poll questions, one of which asked, "What do you think will happen at the Special Tax Session of the General Assembly?" One choice we provided was "Absolutely nothing." As it happened, it won the polling with 36%, while some of the more pessimistic in the crowd thought some tax increase was imminent. As it turned out, the session ended with a wimper and, as some of us guessed — or at least hoped — absolutely nothing got done. Now, it appears His Excellency is jumping on the bandwagon, describing the session to the media with an attempt at hipness: "It was like a Seinfeld episode — a show about nothing." How clever.

But what did he expect? Special sessions are called when there is a consensus and all involved — both parties in both chambers and the executive — have some type of understanding as to what they want to do and agree to do. So he calls for a session, proposes a whopping statewide tax increase during trying economic times, and blames the other side. That's helpful.

If he was serious, there were three issues that — as with most commonsense solutions — are popular and could make great progress toward Virginia's transportation problems.

  1. The House voted 95-0 for HB 6023, an independent, outside audit of VDOT. Governor Kaine's friends in the Senate let it die in committee. How can we spend billions on new projects when we don't have a clue now (or else we wouldn't be in this condition, now would we?). Washington state did an audit of its transportation department and discovered overlap and duplication in planning, projects and bureaucracy (what's new there?); and misplaced priorities. It found simple solutions to correct problems that were thought to cost billions more. The savings? $18 billion — and Washington is a lot smaller than Virginia. (Tertium Quids has more here.)
  2. Senator Frank Wagner (R-7, Virginia Beach) had a proposal to take profits from the Port of Virginia — no tax money involved — and apply that money to transportation. Better still, HB 6055, which originally was loaded with tax increases for Hampton Roads and Northern Virginia residents, was smartly amended by Delegate Glenn Oder (R-94, Newport News) with input, our sources tell us, from Delegates Brenda Pogge (R-96, Yorktown) and Sal Iaquinto (R-84, Virginia Beach), to strip out all tax increases and use profits from the Virginia Port Authority and Dulles International and Reagan National Airports. Following the lead of Yankees may be painful to some down here, but New York and New Jersey do this successfully with their port revenue. After all, according to the governor, his mates in the Senate and the big business special interests, we need transportation to help facilitate the growth of our ports, right? These bills also died in Senate committees.
  3. As ever, a transportation fund lock box (HJ 6001). Let's constitutionally seal up that money so it can't be used for, say, new government run baby sitting programs. The governor, like other famous campaign promises, seems content not to act or, if he acts at all, it's counter to his campaign rhetoric. HJ 6001 was changed by the Senate and eventually died.

So, if nothing was done, who's to blame? Why is it "bipartisan" only to increase taxes but a "waste of time" to adopt other measures proven to work elsewhere? Why do liberals, who know so much, are such great problem solvers and are smarter than the rest of us, only know one solution for every problem? Good, commonsense, practical measures were defeated while liberals scream that their tax increase schemes died — even though they got a full debate in the Republican controlled House in contrast to the committee killing Senate actions. Besides, if nothing was done, it's not like we didn't tell you, governor; and with our wallets still intact, we're better off for this "nothing" as well. In this case, nothing is something, indeed: A win for hard-working, taxpaying families and individuals.

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

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.