« September 2003 | Main | December 2003 »

October 11, 2003

Role Reversal in the Shenandoah?

Earlier this year, fellow bloggers have taken Virginia's governor Mark Warner (D) to task for delaying his plans to restructure Virginia's taxes (see first and then). To his credit, Speaker William Howell (R) has reiterated that any tax restructuring will be revenue-neutral. Now comes the co-chair of the commission, Senator Emmett Hangar (R-Mt. Solon), charged with developing the tax restructuring plan, weighing in with a comment suggesting Virginians will likely be paying higher taxes in the future. According to the August Free Press, in a debate on Tuesday evening, Senator Hanger's opponent, Steve Sisson (D) said Hanger "is pushing in the legislature for what would be the largest tax increase in the history of the Old Dominion. Hanger, surprisingly, didn't debate the point" at the forum sponsored by the Waynesboro Junior Women's Club. In fact, Hanger said, "If we do nothing, we're probably looking at having to increase taxes as it is, and we're probably looking at a tax increase in the area of right at $1 billion a year." Don't these politicians ever consider cutting expenditures? Afterall, cutting expenditures will also balance a budget just as surely as will raising taxes.

October 09, 2003

No Road Tax in Florida County, Either

Remember last November's effort by Northern Virginia's political and business elite to get taxpayers to increase the sales tax? According to yesterday's Ordlando Seninel, "Voters force-fed a stunning defeat to Orange County's political, business, and community leaders" by defeating a half-cent sales tax for transportation projects. Although the ballot contained only the single tax question, 22% of the county's registered voters turned out to vote. Also, "The loss came after pro-tax supporters lined up an unprecedented support among the area's elite and oiled their push with a record $1.5 million in campaign cash." Despite the effort to get voters to approve the tax, it was defeated by a margin of 54-46.

October 07, 2003

It's Only the Taxpayers' Money

Earlier in April of this year, we noted the lavish spending by county poohbahs at the November 2002 annual convention of the Virginia Association of Counties at the "storied Homestead" resort. Now we find out that public officials who attended last October's annual convention of the state's other large lobbying outfit, the Virginia Municipal League (VML) spent just as lavishly. According to an AP report in Monday's Richmond Times-Dispatch and in Tuesday's Washington Times, "543 public public officials from 114 localities flocked to the Norfolk Waterside Convention Center on October 20-22, at the height of the state budget crisis. They spent about $410,000 in taxpayer money, according to an examination of expense reports by the (Richmond) Times-Dispatch." The most blatant spenders were the eight officials from Saint Paul, a small town in southwest Virginia, who spent a total of $9,030.69, or about $9 for each of the 1,000 residents in the town. There was no mention of attendance by any Arlington County official although we noted in April that Arlington taxpayers spend over $36,000 to belong to the VML. That's in addition to the more than $34,000 to belong to the Virginia Association of Counties. Congratulations to the Danville Register and Bee, which on October 10, 2003, blistered the city for scraping together $8,421 to send 10 poohbahs to last year's VML convention, "(d)espite our sluggesh economy, high unemployment and declining population." Apparently the city's political elite saw no problem with sending so many to last year's convention because 10 officials are registered for VML's 2003 convention.