HOUSE BILL NO. 971 is a sales tax. This bill is most egregious in that is a plan for future spending, when the economy is back on its feet. The bill targets fuel use. It will collected as part of the sales tax and will be buried in the price of other items sold through vending machines; as such the sponsors are attempting for this new levy to be a hidden tax. The bill in its totality is here.

In addition to the sales tax imposed pursuant to § 58.1-603, there is hereby levied and imposed in each county and city embraced by the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority established under § 15.2-4830, a retail sales tax at the rate of 0.50 percent.

The bill reenacts § 58.1-604.1 and § 58.1-608.3, with the former stating:

Use tax on motor vehicles, machinery, tools and equipment brought into Virginia for use in performing contracts.

with the later being the vehicle for setting aside the taxes for application to …

any public facility or to extensions or additions to any public facility

This is not even a targeted tax that will set aside money for roads. Apparently we need more firehouses with Greco-Roman columns like the one near Purceville off of RT7?

That Rust and May sponsored/wrote this mess is not a surprise. The only good thing about Rust is that he is not Stevens Miller. Kory and Watts, both of Fairfax, both Democrats, also cosponsored this bill. What is a surprise is that our freshman delegate Tag Greason voted for this bill. The vote on the committee was:

YEAS–Orrock, Lohr, Greason, Pollard, Englin, Abbott–6.
NAYS–Cline, Cole, Gear, Marshall, R.G.–4.
NOT VOTING–Johnson–1

Of the five delegates who represent Loudoun county, three are on the wrong side of this issue, and one is not involved. This is the kind of thing that crushed Republicans in the 2006 and 2008 election cycles. Republicans start acting like Democrats and forgot that the money belongs to the people. VA is in a financial hole not because we tax too little, but because we spend too much. When growth in the budget exceeds growth in the economy, the end result is deficits.

The real trouble with our state and federal government is the spending. New taxes are not fiscally responsible as the proponents of such legislation would contend. This is akin to providing an alcoholic with a full bottle of whiskey and calling it responsible because, “Now he won’t drive as badly as he would if he were suffering from withdrawal.” I also have a bridge to sell to anyone who is willing to buy it.

Our legislators are addicted to spending. Taxes are just a means to this end. We must target the spending and reduce it; then the current taxes collected will suffice. If the legislators are able to cut the budget, current revenues will exceed our needs. The size of government relative to GDP is far too large already. People in VA are tightening their belts, so must Richmond. It has been done elsewhere, 34 states are cutting their budgets. We are raising taxes. What is wrong with this picture?

The people we elect, be they Republican or Democrat, must realize that the total size of government must be reduced. To paraphrase the politics of the 90′s, “It’s the spending, stupid.” To reduce spending takes far more courage than it does to levy a new tax that will not take effect for several years, as HB971 does …

no provision of the first enactment, except adding § 30-134.1 to the Code of Virginia, shall become effective until the first day of the third month following six consecutive months in which the unemployment rate in the Commonwealth is equal to or lower than it was in January 2008

It will be a while before this tax is enacted, but it will be a thorn in our sides when it goes into effect. Are the sponsors and supporters of this bill counting on the electorate to forget who foisted this new expense upon them? Why push a bill that is in effect a plan for future government expansion, when the size of government is too big already? Are not fiscal conservatives for smaller government? Is not Tag Greason touted as a fiscal conservative?

An argument that it is a tax that will not go into effect now, but, will wait for good times to return (thereby not harming Virginians) does not hold water. Such a tax will hurt us when it does take effect. Most importantly such a tax will be used to fuel further growth in government and allow for more spending. The end result will be an even larger financial hangover when the lean times return.

The deficits we run today were born years ago when the economy was doing well. The economy expanded and so did the size of our government. Instead of maintaining the level of services, which already were too profligate, the government took the opportunity to grow. The government grew faster than the economy and now in the lean times we are saddled with crushing debt and deficits.

Voting to increase taxes — even if they are in the far future, possibly after Tag retires from politics — is not why the people of Loudoun sent Greason to Richmond. Target the spending Mr Greason. All spending has constituencies that will protect it. It takes far more courage to slay the dragon than it does to feed it.

Tag’s platform touted fiscal conservatism and keeping VA business friendly. HB971 is not fiscal conservatism; HB971 is not business friendly legislation. Forget the lipstick folks, this bill is a pig. Tag is new to Richmond and we have great hopes for him here in Loudoun. Mistakes happen, and this vote was a mistake Tag.