There Is a Better Way

Mechanicsville, VA - A little over a decade after the Declaration of Independence was signed our framers assembled in a Constitutional Convention, originally designed only to tweak the existing governmental authority known as the Articles of Confederation. Convention delegates could not resist the temptation to author a new supreme law of the land. During the 1787 Convention, Virginian James Madison outlined what is now known as the Virginia Plan for a new national government. This plan offered a stronger structure that provided the basis for making new laws and collect taxes. A state system would reflect the same. Legislative bodies of both would also be proportional. Small states like New Jersey feared domination by larger states and advocated equal representation where states like it would have equivalent stature. Over two hundred and twenty years later, America is blessed to be well secure on its federalist foundation having relied heavily on the Virginia way. Virginia and New Jersey again are offering contrasting views of governance.

In New Jersey Democrats are dueling over when and how much to tax their citizens. The consequence of these debates leaves New Jersey and its citizens without a state budget past their constitutionally required deadline. I recall the words of Justice John Marshall who opined “the power to tax is the power to destroy.” As a result of their Governor’s shutdown, offices of the state DMV closed. State lottery and road construction ended. All nonessential state employees were furloughed and Atlantic City's 12 casinos and the state's 42 parks are now closed and are not returning needed revenues. Moreover, a continued impasse may impact reimbursements for state-subsidized pharmaceuticals as well as impact the real estate industry due to clerk office closings. In light of our recent unpleasantness, thank goodness Virginia did not adopt a “New Jersey plan.” Imagine if our House negotiators had caved to the pressures of higher taxes and not held the line against tax increases in the budget. And imagine worse that our Senate did not compromise. This Commonwealth might well have witnessed a similar debacle. Despite comparable philosophical differences over new taxes (and state needs), Virginia’s General Assembly produced a budget on time and fulfilled its constitutional obligations. It is my hope moving forward that we will remember this latest historical episode as well as our roots as motivation to always put the people first. I am honored to serve the people of the 97th district, to be a member of our Assembly, and most importantly proud to be a Virginian.