With Virginia’s crucial state Senate elections fast approaching — primaries are one week from today and the general election is November 8 — candidates will campaign and talk ad nauseam about certain issues. Incumbents will toot their horns about how much money they’ve saved taxpayers (while simultaneously demanding funding for their pet issues) in stark contrast to the other side’s handling of the nation’s finances in Washington (the other side, of course, no matter which side it is, always being at fault).
So, we have a question or two for you to ask candidates when they talk about how they saved Virginians’ tax dollars and how they are so much more responsible than those in Washington. Despite what they would have you believe, many in the General Assembly (especially in the Senate) the last several years have shown no distinguishing characteristics from the big spenders in Washington. You know the types — spend now, tax even quicker and
ask never ask questions later.
We all remember former Governor Tim Kaine’s campaign promise not to seek a tax increase. In record flip-flop time, he proposed one of the biggest tax increases in Virginia history in his first week into office, ostensibly for transportation improvements. One week! Forget looking into other ways, forget looking at the books, forget taking time to review the best options. Not deterred after the legislation’s rebuff, he jumped on board every tax increase bill, most notably ones that emanated from the Senate. They all failed, but he never stopped trying, even as he was turning over the keys to the executive mansion to current Governor Bob McDonnell, proposing a budget that included what would’ve been the largest tax increase in Virginia history (by raising the income tax, no less).
During Mr Kaine’s four years of trying to raise taxes on an already-sputtering economy, conservative spending hawks in the General Assembly asked for an audit of VDOT. If you want to raise taxes for VDOT to spend, shouldn’t we see how it spends what it has? But the then-governor and the tax-first, ask-
later never spenders, whose reflexive answer to every problem is to tax and spend because government does no wrong with what it already spends, balked. Enter Governor McDonnell and, finally, an audit of VDOT. About 11 months ago, the audit revealed VDOT hoarding $1.45 billion (while refusing to pay just compensation to property owners whose land they confiscate). All that money while Mr. Kaine and numerous members of the Virginia Senate (many listed here) wanted to dip their hands into already-pressed families’ wallets for money that wasn’t necessary, a situation now mirrored by his former boss, President Obama, and liberals in Washington even as debt and spending have emerged as the biggest non-military crisis to confront us in generations.
So, as they campaign this summer and fall, and things continue to be dicey in the economy, and all blame points to Washington, ask the candidates for the Virginia Senate:
1. How many tax increases “for transportation” did they support the last four years, and
If they answer to either is yes, you may want to follow up with a third or fourth: Is that your idea of good fiscal management? and, Why is it you think it’s okay to tax hard-working families to feed wasteful government spending?
The fact is, the VDOT audit, although seemingly forgotten already, was one of the biggest single reforms in recent state government memory and serves as a bell-ringing reminder to politicians, in Richmond or Washington, who think increasing already high tax burdens (especially in hard economic times) must be part of a solution to bring budgets into balance. It just isn’t so. Cutting spending must always be the first place to look. Not to do so is patently disingenuous and shows no regard for the taxpayers, but instead, homage to the Leviathan state, instead.