Onbehalf of the National Taxpayers Union’s (NTU) 9,300 members in Virginia, Iurge you to take advantage of this year’s legislative session to reducespending and avoid burdensome tax increases.
AlthoughVirginia’s fiscal policies are better than those practiced in many otherstates, including neighboring Maryland, there is still ample room forimprovement. Virginia’s state and local tax burden per capita is the ninth-highestin the nation, according to the Tax Foundation. Also, the General Assembly has,for years, devised taxing, spending, and borrowing schemes to expand governmentby billions of dollars, especially for transportation projects. To move beyondthis destructive cycle, the General Assembly should work to enhance taxcompetitiveness and keep the budget manageable. To reach these goals, severalcourses of action are necessary.
Firstand foremost, the General Assembly should reject proposals to increase taxes.One particularly troublesome example, House Bill 2341, would impose a new20-cent per bag tax on plastic bags. Although some claim that this is an effortto protect the environment, in reality HB 2341 is an onerous tax hike (especiallyon working families) that makes shopping more expensive and diminishesmanufacturing job opportunities. Moreover, the ecological benefit from thisapproach is questionable, as taxes on plastic bags in the District of Columbiaand Seattle have had a negligible impact on cleanup efforts. Perhaps mostironically, these taxes have even resulted in consumers using bags that containhazardous chemicals or collect harmful bacteria.
Inaddition to rejecting efforts to increase taxes, the General Assembly shouldreduce spending along the lines suggested by Governor McDonnell in his budgetamendments for K-12 education, the state lottery, and public broadcasting. TheGeneral Assembly should likewise consider the Governor’s proposal to privatizethe antiquated state-owned liquor store system.
Althougheveryone recognizes the importance of transportation in the Commonwealth,especially in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads, that is not an excuse formassive spending increases or borrowing that will only lead to higher taxes inthe long run. Instead, the General Assembly should more actively pursuepublic-private partnerships to repair, maintain, and build infrastructure. The Commonwealth is replete with projects,such as the Norfolk-Portsmouth Midtown Tunnel, constructed through suchpartnerships that meet critical transportation needs while reducing costs fortaxpayers. Other tools such as life-cycle budgeting and technical auditing canhelp to ensure that funding is properly prioritized and economically efficient.
Virginiansare counting on their elected officials to enact policies that will allow aneconomic recovery to gather strength, not hinder the prospects of growth andprosperity. NTU and its members across the Commonwealth stand ready to workwith you toward achieving these vital ends.
StateGovernment Affairs Manager
CC: GovernorRobert McDonnell