Well, I am mad as hell. Normally, it takes a lot for me to become irate as I am generally level headed for the most part, but there are some things that drive me towards the irate nature. For example, I hate when people do not uphold promises. It shows that their priorities are more important than upholding what they pledged to do. You can only imagine my disdain for our Governor, Bob McDonnell. Recently, both the Virginia House and Senate passed the Governor’s legislation (HB2313) which will raise the taxes on Virginians. It couldn’t come at a worst time with the dismal economic situation and high unemployment numbers, and this deal also has constitutional violations as well.
It is not just the fact that both legislative chambers passed this legislation, but it is the fact that Governor Bob McDonnell promised from the time he was running for Governor in 2009 that he would not raise taxes. With his slogan, “Bob’s for Jobs,” McDonnell painted himself as a fiscal conservative. However, with this $1.3 billion transportation tax hike, he has broken a promise to lead on sound fiscal principles and has shown his true stripes. It is this type of behavior that makes me regret casting my ballot for him in 2009.
There is another point that is being neglected in the midst of this bill. In Sunday’s Wall Street Journal, there was a great editorial focusing on the transportation tax proposal and the factors that could have played into the finite details of the legislation. State Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) was even quoted in the article, saying:
“a grotesque combination of tax cuts, tax rebates, tax increases, new taxes, old taxes which are phased out (and then reappear elsewhere), regional alliances … special projects, and exceptions to all of the above.”
Of course, there was a compromise to get the Democrats in the General Assembly to support the bill, but there was also pandering to unions and real estate developers. After all, the unions were pitching a fit about the Metro to Dulles, and there is such a great need to fund this project, which hasn’t come without controversy. Add to that, the real estate developers are going to benefit from the Metro expansion project as well. Governor McDonnell is looking out for his friends, considering that Real Estate Developers contributed $627,884 dollars in 2009. (Source: VPAP)
Granted, this behavior is appalling, but we come to expect nothing better from politics. However, we expected better from our Governor, and there is no doubt that while he has done some things right during his term in office, the decision to raise taxes will tarnish his legacy.
Yes, transportation is a problem. It is something that each locality should address, but it can be handled in other ways. As my friend, Shaun Kenney points out in his recent post on Bearing Drift, there are other solutions that would have been better than raising the sales tax, imposing a hybrid tax, and expanding Medicaid (this was also featured in the bill to gain Democratic support). Shaun proposed eight solutions in his post, which would have been better than raising taxes, like a private-public partnership for roads, a flat income tax that would have abolished transportation fees and taxes, and forgetting light rail/metro developments to improve existing road infrastructures.
Hopefully, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will find the Governor’s transportation legislation unconstitutional or that the Governor will have the common sense to veto the legislation and go back to the drawing board that will be fiscally prudent for improving transportation projects. In the meantime, you can also take action against the transportation tax hike by sending a message to the Governor. There is also a Facebook group slamming the Governor’s decision and No Hybrid Tax petition.