It wasn’t even 9:00 a.m. and yet we got our Quote of the Day! Sitting in House Finance Sub-Committee No. 3, which started at 7:30 in the GAB’s 5th floor conference room, cringing as Republicans killed tax credit bills with regularity (but this is nothing new; more on a later post), Delegate John O’Bannon (R-73, Henrico) was introducing HB 1318, the Taxpayer Surplus Relief Fund, which would return budget surplus dollars to those who paid them. Namely, us. Makes, sense, doesn’t? After all, you give a store $20 for something that costs $15, you get $5 back, right? If the cost of government for one year in Virginia is $37 billion (albeit about $5 billion too high), and $40 billion comes in, we should get it back. It’s pretty simple. Even states like Oregon and Minnesota have that math figured out. According to Delegate O’Bannon, Oregonians get return checks of an average of $600.
So far, so good. But then a Tax Department technocrat imagined out loud why this might not be a good idea, why it might not work or why it may never be applicable: The ceiling on The Rainy Day Fund (The Revenue Stabilization Fund, to be official), which is a surplus in and of itself, but is counted as a line item, and which is drawing interest off our money, is growing faster than the interest earned, so more General Fund money will have to be appropriated to it to keep pace.
As O’Bannon spoke up to reply, freshman Delegate Jimmie Massie (D-72, Henrico), the bill’s co-patron, instead asked to be recognized to address Mr. Technocrat’s concerns:
“Leaving excess money around in a budget to spend is like leaving alcohol in an alocholic’s cabinet. You know he’s going to drink it.”
The bill advanced to the full committee on a unanimous voice vote.