Virginia's Working Families Saved from New Massive Statewide Tax--House Republicans lead defeat of House and Senate Democrat high tax measures --
--Instead of adopting regional fixes, Senate Democrats opted for higher taxes and more statewide spending as their Transportation "solution" --
--Two Richmond-area House Democrats supported proposed a 1% sales tax increase for the Richmond area including Hanover County-
This week marked the beginning of summer break for Virginia Taxpayers: Governor Kaine's Summer Tax Special mercifully ended early Thursday morning. Along with Senate and House Democrats the Governor tried and failed to have taxpayers stretch their already tight household budgets and share their paychecks with VDOT. Not only did the Governor's massive tax increase schemes fail but this week also witnessed the ending of his tax session which cost the Commonwealth nearly $20,000 per day.
"Virginia taxpayers rest easier today now that the high tax plans have failed. The Governor's decision to call the Special Session without first developing bi-partisan consensus was a mistake; we proposed both short-term and long-range strategies to deal with funding our infrastructure" asserted Peace.
Responding to growing maintenance and construction funding needs, House Republicans alternatively proposed creative and targeted measures designed to address transportation is a fiscally prudent manner. Unfortunately, the Senate of Virginia rejected nearly each piece of the responsible House plan. Assembly Democrats were proficient in saying no. "They said NO to Innovation, Prioritization, Spending Cuts, Accountability, External Audits, and Anything but Tax Hikes," said Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Mechanicsville).
House Republicans introduced legislation calling for a performance audit of VDOT, a Transportation Trust Fund Constitutional Amendment to guarantee dollars for roads are spent on roads, highway concessions including the application of tolls at certain "choke" points, and regional fixes to last year's comprehensive plan delivering relief to the most congested areas of the Commonwealth.
Rather than working within the context of a proposed budget to address transportation needs, Governor Kaine called legislators from their work and families to Richmond for a transportation session in his 3rd attempt to raise taxes in his tenure. Even within the Governor's own party deep philosophical divisions exist. The division was evidenced by the introduction of the Governor's tax bill (HB 6026) only in the House after failing to find a Senate Democrat patron. Hidden in his gas tax proposal, Senator Saslaw (SB 6009) proposed a penny increase in the retail sales and use tax on localities between Richmond and Fredericksburg. The legislation did not name the affected counties and cities, rather referred to localities in which daily vehicle miles traveled in the area. If successful, this increase would have meant a 1% food tax increase in the Town of Ashland and consumers would have seen the sales tax increase from the current 5% to 6%.
"This winter Kaine will have the opportunity to amend the budget, cut state spending on new social programs and focus on this important core service of government. It is time to live within our means. With food, gasoline, mortgages, and utility and natural gas bills rising, Virginians deserve better," said Peace.
Over the past four years, Republicans lead Virginia through some significant reforms and improvements to funding roads, rail and transit. Republicans reformed VDOT and encouraged public/private projects and linked land use decisions to transportation to manage growth and combat sprawl. In terms of funding, targeted funds were applied to reduce congestion and improve Virginia's Transportation network:
-In 2005, invested $850 million to reduce congestion (HB 1500)
-In 2006, built upon that progress by directing $568 million in surplus dollars and ongoing funding (HB 5002)
-In 2007, financed largest investment in two decades, $3 billion for road, rail & transit projects. (HB 3202)
-In 2008, restored $180 million in funding for key projects diverted by Governor Kaine. (HB 30)
As it stands, transportation receives 13% or $10 billion of the state's $77 billion budget. A lack of revenues is not the problem.
"In the end, Governor failed to present a creative plan like this that both parties could embrace. Difficult times require innovation and forward looking solutions instead of higher taxes," said Peace.