If anyone needs a potent indicator of just how resistant Republicans in the VA House of Delegates are to raising any new taxes, Appropriations Committee chairman Lacey Putney’s failed attempt to increase Virginia’s retail sales tax from 4% to 5% presents a perfect illustration.
Putney is not only a conservative, he is the longest serving state legislator in the history of the commonwealth. And still, his sales tax proposal was shot down in the House, ultimately tabled in the Finance subcommittee on a voice vote.
In one respect, the bill’s failure can be viewed as a plus for middle and working class Virginians. Since a greater proportion of these groups disposable income is spent on retail items relative to wealthier Virginians, an increase in the retail sales tax in Virginia would be regressive.
But this is not the reason why the House GOP killed the bill. They tabled it because of their extreme ideological aversion to taxes in general and tax hikes in particular.
The irony is that while the VA GOP constantly laments Virginia’s budget shortfalls, the group is unwilling to take the appropriate steps to balance Virginia’s budget in a constructive and long-term viable way. The VA GOP would rather sacrifice Virginia’s future than give in to any tax increases.
This short-sightedness has been a constant theme of Virginia’s Republican Party. Shooting down tax increases may well benefit Virginians today, but what about ten or twenty years from now? Will our budget be in even bigger dire straits than it is today because a group of short-sighted legislators had an innate distaste for tax increases?
Virginia certainly can’t tax its way out of its fiscal problems, but short-term tax increases are not the enemy. The enemy are legislators more concerned with ideological purity than doing the right thing for Virginians.