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St. Jude and the Hated Car Tax

Anita Kumar blogs at Washington Post’s Virginia Politics about a phone call that Arlington's Del. Bob Brink received earlier this month from Gov. Tim Kaine while on vacation in Rhode Island with his family. According to Kumar:

“The outgoing Democratic governor wanted to know if Brink would sponor a bill to raise the income tax for him in the upcoming legislative session.

“Brink's response? Yes.

“Brink believes -- as Kaine does -- that scrapping the hated car tax and replacing it with an income tax is the right thing to do at the time of multi-billion dollar budget shortfalls. But, Brink said, he is pretty sure he knows the bill's fate.

"I have a long history of patroning St. Jude bills -- bills of lost causes,'' Brink said.

“Last session, Brink patroned a bill that called for raising the cigarette tax for Kaine. It died. Three sessions ago, he patroned a bill that called for a sales tax increase on cars for Kaine. It, too, died.

“Get the picture?”

Before “marching up the hill” with “lost cause” tax bills, Mr. Brink may want to take a look at the entire Virginia tax system before climbing further up the hill with another tax bill. Scott Hodge, president of the nonpartisan Tax Foundation recently looked at Pennsylvania’s tax system, and found that the tax system itself was “responsible for job losses and out-migration” rather than a weak economy.

Hodge writes in Fiscal Fact No. 201, published earlier this month, that the “only bright spot in the state's tax climate is its individual income tax system which ranks 13th overall.” On the other hand, the state has “the 11th highest state and local tax burden in the nation.” In addition, the state’s business tax climate, corporate tax rates, business capital taxes and estate taxes are not especially positive. It’s not surprising, therefore, to read that Hodge says:

“Pennsylvania's job losses did not start with the most recent recession. Indeed, the out-migration of taxpayers began more than 15 years ago in large measure because Pennsylvania's tax system is unremittingly hostile to business.“
As shown in the following chart from Fiscal Fact No. 201. “Pennsylvania lost $9.7 billion in adjusted gross income due to out-migration between 1993 and 2008.” Even more serious, “Pennsylvania is gaining people who have little or no income and less than a college degree (college students mainly) but losing people at all other income levels and those who have a college degree or better.”

So here’s hoping that Del. Bob Brink will work harder at improving Virginia’s business climate rather than “patroning St. Jude bills” even when requested by the outgoing governor of his own party.


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