What would you do if an item at a store cost you $35.00 and you gave the clerk $40.00 cash, and then the clerk took your change and spent it himself on something he wanted? You probably wouldn't be happy. But for years, Virginia taxpayers put up with this shady way of doing business. The Virginia government, which has been named by national magazines as "The Best Managed State," takes any surplus in a given year and rolls it over to the following year's budget to spend on new projects and programs not previously budgeted. Doesn't sound like good management, does it? Much less ethical. So, if the cost of state government runs, for example, $37 billion dollars a year, and tax revenues are $40 billion, shouldn't the taxpayers get their change back? (There's a reason private enterprise runs more efficiently.) Certain lawmakers think so. Delegates John O'Bannon (R-73, Henrico), Jimmie Massie (R-72, Henrico) and Ben Cline (R-24, Amherst) have HB 1318, the Taxpayer Surplus Relief Fund Act, before the House Finance Committee Monday, February 4, at 8:30 a.m. This bill would prohibit the state from spending surplus tax money the next year and create a mechanism to return it to the taxpayers. There is no other situation in life where a vendor keeps over and above what you pay for the stated cost of a product or service and then spends it for what he wants. State government should be held to that very same commonsense principle. Delegate Massie pretty well summed it up here, when he made our Quote Of The Day a week ago.

In the Colonial period, in Virginia counties simply totaled up the cost of government, and divided the cost among eligible taxpayers. A flat tax, if you will, and an incentive to keep the cost of government down. We can't budget like that anymore, but returning surpluses to the people is one way to keep the cost of both government and taxes down.

So do yourself a few clicks of a favor in order to start getting some of your money back from the unethical clerk that is the state spending machine: Contact members of the House Finance Committee this weekend by clicking here. Ask them to vote for HB 1318 so we taxpayers can get our surplus money back.