Getting a dollar back doesn’t seem like much, does it? They don’t think so over at RK-the comments are chortling over what folks might buy with that dollar. Because of the way it is raised, some might say the dollar in question might not apply to you.
They would be wrong. The dollar in question does apply to you, and the issue reflects the wrong headed thinking being used by too many of our elected officials, including Governor Tim “The Gov” Kaine (D), state Senator Tommy Norment (R) and Fairfax Supervisor Gerry Connolly (D).
The circumstances surrounding this dollar also shows very clear thinking by Virginia Attorney General Robert McDonnell (R).
In 2003 the General Assembly approved a $1 increase in the vehicle registration fee to provide funding for the 2007 Jamestown Exposition, and brought in about $4,ooo,ooo.oo. The fee is set to expire on June 30, 2008.
Except maybe it won’t…
Governor Kaine wants to keep the fee in place for use in encouraging tourism and with the state DMV. Nothing specific, you understand, just to be spent in those two areas.
State legislators like state Senator Tommy Norment want to keep the buck in place to use for other government expenses. Nothing specific, you understand, just for expenses.
McDonnell says the specific purpose for the increase is met, and the increase should be eliminated as per the original legislation.
I agree with Bob.
The whole episode reeks of a state government that is unable or unwilling to police itself, and is indicative of a mindset that must be eliminated from the financial management and the politics of the state.
It is an attitude of entitlement, a belief that once a tax is created, that money now belongs to the state and not to the taxpayer.
I am reminded of a Gerry Connolly comment from two years ago. After having some serious property tax increases in Fairfax County, the county BOS voted to reduced property tax payments by $230 million. According to the WaPo, the following exchange occurred:
But at the work session yesterday, the real meaning of tax relief and the political pressure many local officials are facing from angry taxpayers set off a rapid-fire exchange between the board’s top Democrat and its most vocal Republican. “Have we ever returned $230 million to the taxpayers before?” board Chairman Gerald E. Connolly (D) asked budget chief Susan Datta, calculating the value of the 13-cent reduction.
“No,” Datta replied.
Supervisor Michael R. Frey (R-Sully) shot back: “Have we ever had a 23 percent increase for residential properties in a single year? This is not a tax cut. People are paying more in actual real money.”
Two things. First, such a question… “Have we ever returned $230 million to the tax payers before?” No, and Fairfax County still hasn’t done it. “Returning” money would be sending me money the county had already gotten from me. This vote simply said the county wouldn’t take as much next year.
Next is Connolly’s attitude. He and too many other elected officials think that taxes are a permanent thing, and that once enacted are a property of the state or local government and in the natural course of things should not and will not go away.
This attitude is shared by Norment, by Kaine, and by more members of the General Assembly than I like to think about.
I do not consider myself an anti-tax fanatic. Like everyone else, I don’t want to pay any more in taxes than I have to. However, I recognize that government has certain functions entrusted to it by the citizens of the republic; we pay taxes to fund those responsibilities. Taxation should be adequate to meet those needs plus a reasonable amount in reserve for unforeseen complications. Money beyond that should go back to the taxpayer, and the taxes that produce that revenue adjusted. No tax should be considered permanent, especially those that are passed with a sunset provision as part of the legislation. Conservatives and Liberals may disagree about what services government should perform, but I think both sides of the ideological divide want the money brought in to pay for those services to be spent responsibly.
Perhaps this concern of of no importance or grounded belief in men like The Gov or Senator Norment. I don’t hear them telling us “Why is the funding needed?”, or “Where will it be spent?” or even “If the need is so great, why wasn’t it addressed previously?”
These guys want to hold office, but they don’t want to be on the dime for raising taxes. They jealously fight to hold on to tax revenues because they have forgotten that the money is not theirs…it is ours. They aren’t willing to say “here is what the state needs to be able to do, here is why, and here is how much it costs”. Instead, they act as if no explanation or detail is needed about how current revenues are spent, and that doing anything new naturally requires more money.
The question about this small tax reflects the manner in which our state government will function. Too many in state and federal government consider our income theirs to play with and not money with which they have been entrusted to meet specific needs.
That is why this entire discussion is about more than what RK gives credit for. It is not even a conservative/liberal issue. It is a fundamental issue about how we want state government to function, and how we want our representatives to conduct the public business.