A Taxpayer Victory And Another Early Quote Of The DayFeb 04, 2008
It was another busier than one can imagine day today at the G.A. There simply is too much material to keep up with and post, but we will try to bring it all to you as time permits. It's all great stuff. But we do have this by way of good news and humor from the normally staid House Finance Committee: Delegate John O'Bannon's HB 1318, The Taxpayer Surplus Relief Fund Act, passed 21-0 in the House Finance Committee this morning. It's also where we got our Quote Of The Day, again by 9:30 a.m., and from an unlikely source: The all-business, no-frills Delegate Bob Purkey, the committee's chairman. He actually had a hat-trick. More about that in a bit.
In one of those, "after all that fuss," votes, and despite some antagonistic questions from Delegates Bob Hull (D-38, Fairfax) and Kenneth Melvin (D-80, Portsmouth), the bill passed 16-0. No, that's no typo. Above it says 21-0 and that's correct, too. There is a House rule that permits a member to vote on something well after a committee vote. By well after, we're talking hours after. The stipulation is that it cannot change the outcome of a vote. So members often will not vote, see how the winds blow, then vote. In this case, a quick scan of the board showed that Delegate Melvin did not vote, despite his clearly anti-bill questions. I'm not sure how Delegate Hull voted. Clearly, though, all who didn't vote jumped on the bandwagon by the close of business today.
At one point, Delegate Hull, seemingly trying to make a point that there's no taxpayer money leftover to return to the taxpayers, litterally asked, "How do you define a surplus?"
To which Delegate Ben Cline (R-24, Amherst) replied, "Any unanticipated extra revenues." Don't think Webster's could have said it better. Still, as close as it was, it only gets an honorable mention for Quote Of The Day.
For that, we return to Delegate Hull, who we admire for not trying to hide his liberal stripes. An otherwise innocuous bill, HB 1388, was up; a bill to exempt a company building a factory in Mecklenburg County from a certain sales tax. It is supported by the administration. It was used as a bargaining chip to bring the company to Mecklenburg County. It was on the rocket docket as the sub-committee passed it unamimously. The company is creating 100 jobs at twice the prevailing wage in that region. The economic impact statement said it would prospectively "cost $2 million" in tax revenue. But if they don't build the factory, we're not getting the sales tax revenue anyway; not hard to understand. (By the way, here's what we think of economic impact statements.) But Delegate Hull asked question after question, finally admitting that instead of a tax break, he would rather give them a $2 million grant (once a redistributionist, always one, even to corporations).
This led Chairman Purkey to our QOD:
"Am I hearing from the committee its opposition to creating these 100 jobs?
To which the whole committee room erupted. But there's more. Replying to a question of its necessity by Delegate Frank Hall (D-69, Richmond), Purkey retorted:
"We have, we are and we must!"
The bill passed 20-0, with Hull refusing to vote (even with after hours voting). But the good chairman had more in his arsenal today. As HB 125 came up, a tax credit for investing in Virginia-based nanotechnology companies, Delegate Purkey noted that the bill had passed the House for the last three years. His explanation for its death earns him more QOD props:
"The only reason this hasn't become law is that there was a gentleman in the other body by the name of ChI-chester; is how you pronounce his name I believe; but Mr. ChI-chester had it killed."