As we have previously noted, Governor McDonnell has moved firmly into the RINO Camp proposing a 16% Sales Tax Increase for Virginia to pay for more roads. (What is it with these pretend Conservative politicians?) And while the abrupt left turn for McDonnell is sure to ingratiate him in the eyes of Progressives (although Progressives would rather see the proceeds from the pillaging of taxpayers go to fund abortions or the “global warming” hoax), it is refreshing to see people like current state Senator Mark Obenshain – who is one of the candidates for Va. Attorney General this year – come out against increasing taxes on the backs of Virginians in this never-ending recession.
That’s the last thing we need.
While McDonnell frittered billion dollar surpluses on raises and bonuses for state employees at a time the private sector is struggling mightily, Onenshain rightly points out that only 1.5% of the surplus went to transportation – which is a serious problem, but unlike McDonnell, Obenshain believes that the state can provide for transportation without raising taxes – a campaign promise McDonnell is now in the process of breaking.
Obenshain has proposed that surplus money be used where we need it most – in transportation. And he has proposed a bill that, if enacted prior to McDonnell raiding the surplus kitty, would have seen $400 million per year go into transportation.
Kudos to Senator Mark Obenshain for looking out for Virginian’s. Here is the relevant excerpt from his email:
Of course, the biggest news out of Richmond is the Governor’s transportation package. Almost everyone agrees that we need a far greater focus on transportation. In many parts of the Commonwealth, congestion is a daily tribulation, and we have serious issues of maintenance delayed and construction postponed. Everyone knows this. Where the consensus breaks down, naturally, is on how best to meet Virginia’s transportation needs.
The Governor’s proposal eliminates the 17.5 cents / gallon gas tax while bumping the sales tax from 5 to 5.8%, with the additional sales tax (and a little more besides) earmarked for transportation.
I firmly believe that we need to find ways to put more resources into transportation, but that’s a matter of prioritizing transportation spending within the existing budget – not of raising taxes. I know what some of you are thinking: “Easier said than done.” And that’s fair. Increasing transportation funding without raising taxes is a challenge – but after all, aren’t members of the General Assembly elected to tackle those sorts of challenges? Raising taxes is “easy” from a budgetary standpoint, but it’s tough on Virginians. We have to find another way.
And as it turns out, there are things we can do. First and foremost, when Virginia brings in unanticipated revenue, let’s put it toward transportation! We’ve run a surplus three years in a row, to the tune of $1.4 billion, but less than $21 million of that went to transportation. That’s a paltry 1.5% of the surplus.
This year, I’m carrying legislation that dedicates our future surpluses (after we’ve made the constitutionally mandated deposit into the Rainy Day Fund) to the Transportation Trust Fund. Had this been in place for recent years, we would have averaged just under $400 million in additional transportation funding each of the past three years.
We should also look at increasing the percentage of the existing sales tax that goes to transportation. This is part of the Governor’s proposal, and it’s something I’ve proposed in the past. I concur with the Governor’s recommendation that we increase the current allocation – but not that we also raise taxes. Virginians don’t need that added burden.
Finally, if we’re talking about prioritizing transportation, we need to make sure that whatever monies are deposited in the Transportation Trust Fund aren’t raided to pay for unrelated programs, as has already happened three times. That brings me to one final transportation initiative, my Lockbox Amendment, which would ensure that money deposited into the Transportation Trust Fund – most of it coming from taxes specifically related, and dedicated, to transportation – is spent exclusively on transportation projects.
You can contact Mark Obenshain for information on his campaign here.