Some Simple Ideas Regarding "Hard Decisions"Mar 03, 2008
Since Friday, when the Supreme Court of Virginia ruled in Marshall v. Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, et al., that the regional transportation authorities established by last year's transportation bill (HB 3202) are unconstitutional because un-elected boards do not have the authority to tax, some in the General Assembly leadership have been busy trying to hastily put together a plan to raise taxes. If there ever was a time for delegates and senators to hear a colletive no from Virginians, it is now. Virginia families simply are overtaxed! The truth of the matter is that despite the revenue shortfall causing the budget problems for the end of this fiscal year as well as the shortfall for the 2009-2010 budget, the General Assembly and Governor still are planning to spend more hard-earned tax money than the previous budget cycle! ($78 billion in 2009-2010 over the $74 billion in 2007-2008.) Another simple fact is that the budget has more than doubled in the last 10 years. Has your family income more than doubled in that time?
Of course, some will say they are not raising taxes, but rather giving county boards of supervisors and city councils taxing authority they currently do not have, so they can vote and be accountable for their own tax increases. This may be true, but we all know happens when politicians get an opportunity to take our money - they do it!
Furthermore, if the General Assembly does this, it does two things: It gives two bodies (the G.A. and your local government) taxing authority for roads (great, more politicians able to tax us!), and it passes the buck to local governments instead of the General Assembly making the hard decisions itself. Hard decisions, as in cutting programs for a change. (No, reducing the rate of growth is not a cut; that's an inside Washington game.)
We have some ideas:
Instead of burdening families even more, perhaps the General Assembly and Governor Tim Kaine should cut spending and reconsider starting new programs no one wants, such as the Governor's Pre-K initiative;
Keep dedicated transportation dollars for transportation instead of shifting them to other programs;
Forget the untrue notion that general fund revenues cannot be used for transportation;
Eliminate funding for "non-state agencies" (which also is unconstutional, but as we've seen that's not to stop politicians from spending our money; who wants to file a lawsuit on that matter?);
Eliminate pork and pet projects; and
In what would be a true and fruitful reform, scrap the antiquated educational funding formula known as the Standards of Quality for a student-based, more efficient education funding system, which would save hundreds of millions of tax dollars.
Whatever the case, no one should buy the line that "there is no way to do this without raising more revenue."
Besides, the vast majority of money for transportation in HB 3202 comes from bonds, so there is money for transportation.
The fact is that spending in Richmond goes up every year regardless of the economy. The fiscal train wreck the Commonwealth faces has been brought about by a lack of leadership - not a lack of revenue. Don't let legislators con you into thinking that it requires "leadership" to take more of your money. It simply requires arrogance.