All News & Blogs
The General Assembly impasse is worst-case GOP scenario
By RICHARD AMRHINE
With so many federal tax dollars lost to tax cuts, and the rest going to Iraq and the Gulf Coast, Virginians must be prepared to help themselves.
It's easy to label people tax-and-spend liberals when they're willing to pay a buck to get something accomplished. If that's the price of progress, fine.
It's those who think the status quo is good enough--that we can get by on the same level of revenues as the cost of everything rises around us--who have to explain the consequences of their taxophobia.
House Republicans point to a state surplus, resulting from the 2004 tax increase, as evidence that the funds necessary for transportation are already there, and that new taxes are unnecessary.
But in reality there is no surplus--these are merely funds left over after the state budget has inadequately funded secondary and higher education, environmental issues such as the Chesapeake Bay, and just about every line item devoted to the disabled and less fortunate.
How can Virginia have a budget surplus, for example, when there are still thousands of Virginians living without indoor plumbing?
According to a survey based on 2005 figures, the Tax Foundation, a nonprofit fiscal-policy research group, Virginia ranks 41st among the 50 states in local/state tax burden as a percentage of per capita income--well below the national average. Maryland ranks 19th, West Virginia 21st, and North Carolina 23rd--all right around the national average.
In 2003, before the $1.5 billion tax increase of 2004 took effect, Virginia ranked 38th. So the current burden is less now, in relative terms, than it was before the record-setting tax increase.
Some will argue that this means only that everyone must be overtaxed--part of a vast left-wing conspiracy, I suppose. These figures from the Tax Foundation (the Tax Freedom Day people), are gathered from the U.S. Commerce Department and the Bureau of Economic Analysis.