According to an “action alert” received earlier today from the Family Foundation of Virginia:
“The General Assembly today recessed until July 9th, giving legislators an opportunity to return to their home districts to hear from citizens on the proposed 35 percent increase in the state’s tax on gasoline.
“Before leaving, the House of Delegates Committee on Rules defeated Governor Kaine’s proposed tax hike package by a vote of 11-4. Two Democrats joined with Republicans in the overwhelming defeat. Then, the same committee sent the Senate's gas tax hike to the full House floor without recommendation by the same 11-4 vote.
“Governor Kaine’s tax bill was never introduced in the Democrat controlled Senate. Instead, yesterday, Democrats in that chamber passed the gas tax bill patroned by Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-35, Springfield). The bill passed 21-16.
“Despite another major hike in the price of oil again today, Senate Democrats are unapologetic in their support for the increase in the gas tax. The vote by the House rules committee today sets up a political showdown on July 9th when all 100 members of the House will have to go on record for or against the hike.
Reporting about the special transportation session in Richmond from the Washington Post has been somewhat partisan, i.e., reporting in favor of Virginia’s Democrats. Want proof? Compare the following two paragraphs, both of which are the first paragraphs of their respective stories. The first talks about the passage in the Senate of Sen. Saslaw’s 35% hike in the gas tax, but there is no mention of party affiliation. In the second you will see where you learn at the very beginning of just who is responsible for rejecting the transportation proposal (the second paragraph below was posted at 3:44 PM, but the partisanship has been edited out of the print versiion):
“RICHMOND, June 25 -- The Virginia Senate voted along party lines Wednesday to raise the gas tax by 6 cents, but officials in both parties say the measure has almost no chance in the House of Delegates, leaving many legislators to wonder whether any plan to pay for transportation will be resolved in the current special session.”
“RICHMOND, June 26 -- A Republican-led House of Delegates committee Thursday morning rejected Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's proposal to raise $1 billion a year in taxes and fees for transportation projects, effectively denying the bill an up-or-down floor vote in the special legislative session.”
In a letter to members of the General Assembly urging rejection of Gov. Kaine’s $1 billion tax increase, the National Taxpayers Union pointed out:
“During a time of high food and fuel costs, these increased tax burdens could significantly hurt the already-tight budgets of everyday Virginians. Before another dollar is ripped from the hands of families and businesses, the Commonwealth should ensure that every dollar it already takes is used in the most efficient manner possible.
“To that end, we urge you to support a comprehensive external performance audit of the Virginia Department of Transportation. Such audits have been completed in other states with positive results. Having a better understanding of existing outlays and potential economies will better help the General Assembly to meet current and future transportation demands in ways that will not raise taxpayer burdens or damage the economy.”
While General Assembly members are in recess until July 9, we urge ACTA members, and all concerned taxpayers, to contact your Senator and Delegate in the General Assembly. As indicated by poll data at the Family Foundation blog, tell them to:
“Re-prioritize spending and re-formulate budget spending formulas, make real cuts in needless programs and shift current tax money to transportation and create a transportation lock box:”
And be sure to tell them to audit VDoT before picking our pockets.
To see thre reaction to the General Assembly's special transportation session in Southeast Virginia, read the Virginian-Pilot's take. Northern Virginians also need to closely read the print version of the Washington Post referenced above, which are:
“On Thursday, House Republican leaders fast-tracked a bill to salvage the regional plans by providing millions of dollars in state-imposed and locally enacted taxes into Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, but in vastly different ways.
“The Northern Virginia proposal, which would bring in $156 million in new revenue a year, includes a $100 license fee for new adult drivers, an increase in the tax on home sales of 40 cents per $100 of assessed value, and a 2 percent tax increase on rental cars and hotel rooms.
“Some parts of last year's regional plan in Northern Virginia remain intact, including a commercial real estate tax that would bring in an additional $208 million.
"This compromise in my opinion is the only thing that at the end of the day is going to bring Northern Virginia any money," said Del. David B. Albo (R-Fairfax). "This is the best I can get."”
Is the fix in? “We report, you decide.”