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Don’t expect Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell to get much support from conservatives should he aspire to higher office.
He just committed the conservative cardinal sin: implementing tax increases.
And his transgression turned out to be a whopper—one of the highest tax increases in the history of the commonwealth.
That just won’t play well on the Tea Party circuit. And it shouldn’t.
What was he thinking?
McDonnell might have had good intentions, but by the time his proposal made it through the buzz saw of the House and Senate, it was filled with new taxes and hidden costs to Virginia taxpayers.
Many local representatives wanted no part of it.
More than six different taxes and fee structures are being increased under the shadow of the fixed gas tax being abolished, according to Sen. Bill Stanley, 20th District.
“Unfortunately, this bill makes all Virginians, including the citizens of Southside and Southwest, pay out of their own wallets their hard earned money for road projects that benefit certain more affluent parts of the state, without providing a direct benefit to all of Virginia,” Stanley stated about his opposition.
Senator Steve Newman, 23rd District, and Del. Kathy Byron, 22nd District, also found the bill too costly to taxpayers.
“A plan that had left the House of Delegates raising taxes by around $500 million returned as a $1.2 billion tax increase, the second largest in state history,” Byron lamented this week. “For those in our area, it will raise the tax on and increase the cost of just about everything. The sales tax will increase to 5.3 percent. The tax on buying a vehicle will go from 3 percent to 4.3 percent. And because the tax on diesel fuel, consumed primarily by those who truck the goods we buy to the stores from which we buy them, will be increased to 6 percent on the wholesale price, you should anticipate an increase in prices.”
And there is no protection to the Transportation Trust Fund – that means the funds supposedly collected for this aren’t safeguarded against being spent somewhere else. “For me and other conservatives, the tax increases included in the plan – and the potential effects of those increases on our fragile recovery – were too great,” Newman stated.
The plan reduces the state’s gasoline tax by replacing the current 17.5-cent-per-gallon tax with a 3.5 percent wholesale gas tax. But that’s a bit deceiving. Should wholesale gas reach $4, the tax would be 14 cents. And there are a whole lot more costs that the taxpayer will now face, including a sales tax increase from 5 percent to 5.3 percent. The measure also raises the vehicle-titling tax to 4.3 percent, up from 3 percent and enacts a $100 annual fee on alternative-fuel vehicles.
The tax on diesel would be 6 percent. You can bet that cost increase will be passed along to customers, too.
All this while Virginia is running a surplus.
“This is a moment to find common ground and get results for the people of Virginia,” McDonnell stated. “It is why they sent us here. Not to argue and posture, but to cooperate and solve problems.”
Maybe so, but it shouldn’t be compromise at any cost.
That’s what this boondoggle is.
McDonnell proved he’s no different than his federal counterparts—instead of finding ways to cut spending, it’s all about raising more money on the backs of others.
In this case, you can bet the taxpayers of Virginia will be the one’s footing the bill.