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HB 6055: The Sharon Pandak Employment Act

By Greg L | 29 June 2008 | Virginia Politics | 14 Comments

Courtesy of Right Wing Liberal, here is a short run-down on the monstrosity that is HB 6055.  Not only would we be getting a huge tax hike under this ridiculous bill, but the money raised would be used for, among other things, to fund NVTA lobbying efforts in the General Assembly so they can ask that  our taxes be raised even more.  I can just imagine paying Sharon Pandak so she can start coveting more taxpayer pizzas.  Is this really what Speaker Howell wants to cram down the throats of Virginia taxpayers this year?

The bill itself (HB 6055, co-sponsored by Dave Albo) would do the following (read it and weep):

  • Impose a rental car tax (2%) on Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads
  • “Allow” localities in Northern Virginia to impose a grantor’s tax (0.4%), but once imposed, it can never be repealed so long as the NVTA is building something in the locality (and the NVTA gets all the dough)
  • “Allow” localities in Northern Virginia to impose transient occupancy tax (2%), but once imposed, it can never be repealed so long as the NVTA is building something in the locality (and the NVTA gets all the dough)
  • Allow localities in  Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads to impose a real estate tax (0.25% in NoVA, 0.1% in HR)
  • Any localities in Northern Virginia that refuse to impose the fees get no NVTA road projects (just like HB3202 last year, it puts a gun to the head of the localities)
  • Allows all other localities with a population over 500,000 - or any jurisdiction bordering it, or any city with a population of 265,000 to impose a local income tax (pursuant to a referendum)

That’s just the taxes.  Get a load of where the money goes (besides for “transportation”).

  • The NVTA can be “an advocate for the transportation needs of Northern Virginia before the state and federal governments,” in other words, they can use taxpayer money to lobby for more taxpayer money
  • The funding in Hampton Roads will be determined by the Hampton Roads Metropolitan Planning Organization (another appointed group).  In other words, Hampton Roads trades one regional government for another.

It seems like some in the Republican caucus started out with the idea that there was no other option than to advocate for a tax hike.  When that is your departure point, not only is it impossible to distinguish you from a Democrat, but all we end up doing is throwing more money at a problem without ever looking at how that money is spent, or what economies might be realized that would allow money to be reprioritized towards transportation and away from lesser priorities such as providing taxpayer-funded daycare to the four year-old children of illegal aliens.

Before I’ll assent to giving the government more of my money, I need to be sure that the money I already pay isn’t being wasted.  If that money is going to pay Sharon Pandak to whine that taxpayers need to sacrifice a few more pizzas, there’s no way I’ll accept this.

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  1. starryflights said on 29 Jun 2008 at 11:11 pm:
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    Maybe it’s time we all moved out of here.

  2. freedom said on 30 Jun 2008 at 6:42 am:
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    There is plenty of waste in state government, but even our elected representatives don’t know where that waste is. The heads of the various agencies know, but do you think they will share that information? Of course not. No matter how much tax money the state decides to collect, it will NEVER be enough!!

    Pre-kindergarten for four year olds is coming….oh, and of course, state provided day care for those poor two and three year old children of Moms who must work if they’re to have that 42″ HDTV… sheeeeeeeeeesh — just like transportation improvements, these programs cost money…and where will that money come from?

    It’s never-ending….:(

  3. Groveton said on 30 Jun 2008 at 12:23 pm:
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    Virginia’s gas tax is based on cents per gallon not a percentage of the cost of a gallon of gas. The gas tax was last raised in 1986. Meanwhile, the cost of building and maintaining roads has inflated faster than growth in sales of gallons of gas. Today’s funding crisis is the inevitable result of this neglect.

    I think the interesting aspects of this transportation funding debate are in the regional “push me - pull you” antics going on throughout Virginia. The three key regions are Northern Virginia, Tidewater and Elsewhere.

    NoVA is already paying a lot for transportation. Beyond the standard gas tax, Northern Virginia also pays a 0.6 cents per gallon tank storage fee and a 2% incrimental sales tax on the sale of motor fuels. In addition, taxes are collected in a number of NoVA counties ostensibly for transportation (although these funds are rumored to be “redirected” for other things - particularly in Fairfax County). Finally, the General Assembly has side-stepped funding some NoVA roads by selling the lanes on I95 and I395 to private enterprises which will expand those roads and charge variable tolls (expected to cost $1 / mile at peak times). Meanwhile, most measures of road quality in Northern Virginia show that region to have rather poor conditions. (http://dashboard.virginiadot.org/Pages/Maintenance/Bridge.aspx).

    Tidewater has some serious congestion issues - especially with regard to the roadways that support the ports. However, Tidewater is opposed to regional transportation authorities claiming that they are unelected and unaccountable. Meanwhile, the traffic gets worse as the people of Tidewater wait in hope that the General Assembly will reach consensus and fix the problem.

    Elsewhere in Virginia things are OK. The major transportation tax - the gas tax - has not been raised for 21 years. Road quality is good. Road building has been consistent - look at the “Richmond Beltway” (295) - it’s as big as the Washington beltway for a city about 1/10 the size (my guess). Politicians from these areas answer the question of transportation funding by saying, “We aren’t paying more taxes to build NoVA’s roads”. All questions regarding the soures and uses of Virginia’s transportation funds are met with a shrug of the shoulders. In fact, the analysis I have seen indicates that more transportation money is taken from NoVA than spent on transportation in NoVA. So, a better quote would be, “We’re not changing the transportation tax because we already get more than we pay. We don’t want NoVA’s money spent on NoVA’s roads”.

    Amidst all this - the Virginia Senate (Dems) passed a bill that would raise the statewide gas tax by 6 cents a gallon. The Republicans have oscillated between calling for a “performance audit” and proposing an extremely complex regional taxing and transportation organization. Essentially, the Democrats are in favor of new taxes that would make the entire taxation / subsidy situation more fair to NoVA while the Republicans favor a scheme which would make the already unfair system even worse for NoVA.

    Let me finish this with a word on the trustworthiness of Virginia’s political class. The Dulles Toll Road was built under the agreement that the tolls would be lifted once the road was paid off. Years passed and the road has been paid off. Have the tolls been lifted? No, they’ve been raised. So any “lockbox” scheme endorsed by the General Assembly must be viewed with a sceptical eye. Whatever the GA passes, the GA can take away. Money collected for transportation in NoVA can be diverted elsewhere. Only an amendment to the Virginia constitution would tie the hands of the GA sufficiently to prevent foul play. Anybody who doubts this need only look at Mark Warner’s Education tax. Advertised as a way to improve education funding, it turned into a mechanism for localities outside NoVA to lower their local tax rates and “import” more money from NoVA. And this was no naieve mistake.

    “The same thing had happened during the administration of Governor Gerald Baliles when many localities drastically reduced their local support for education as state aid increased. It was an action that led to creation of a “maintenance of effort” clause when Governor James Gilmore signed a K-12 education increase into law to ensure that localities did not use increased state aid to reduce their local support.

    But neither Warner nor the General Assembly proposed such a clause in 2004. Nor did any member of the General Assembly propose such a clause on either the Senate or House floors.”.

    Source: http://www.forwardfairfax.com/papers/withdrawals.htm

    Now the same Governor (Warner) who intentionally ripped off Northern Virginia wants us to support him instead of his opponent (Gilmore) who took pains to protect Northern Virginia.

    In Virginia, you can’t really bet on Republicans or Democrats as a party. You have to look at the individual candidates.

  4. Vigilant1 said on 30 Jun 2008 at 12:57 pm:
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    NVTA’S new theme song:

  5. Advocator said on 30 Jun 2008 at 1:19 pm:
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    “In general the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one class of citizens to give to another.” - Voltaire

  6. junes_reston said on 30 Jun 2008 at 1:21 pm:
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    When we keep re-electing them, what can we expect?

    It’s not all that far fetched that they might feel they are doing what their constituents want if they keep re-electing them.

  7. freedom said on 30 Jun 2008 at 2:02 pm:
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    Absolutely they’re doing what their constituents want, junes….that is, it’s what the constituents with their “hands out” want. They want just a little bit more than last year.

    Unfortunately, the number of people with their “hands out” continues to increase while the number of “givers” (producers) continues to decrease.

    I wonder who provides when the “givers” don’t have any more to give?

  8. Groveton said on 30 Jun 2008 at 2:27 pm:
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    Facts and figures are in short supply in Virginia and essentially non-existent in Northern Virginia. How much tax money is raised in NoVA vs. how much is spent in NoVA? I have never seen or heard anybody take a serious stab at answering that question. Yet we continue to elect officials who drive down to Richmond and vote on taxes and spending, etc. Sometimes I think the NoVA politicians just don’t want to know. It’s easier to sell out your consituents than to fight against your own party. So, the NoVA state politicians avoid any analysis of gives and takes and just keep taking. And the electorate never has the facts so they vote for the politician with the most signs in the highway median strip.

  9. starryflights said on 30 Jun 2008 at 2:49 pm:
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    Maybe we should think about the birth of a new State: North Virginia!

  10. Harry said on 30 Jun 2008 at 3:58 pm:
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    This dog won’t hunt; dead on arrival; this is the worst one put forth yet, makes Kaine’s plan look acceptable. Albo just needs to recognize that he is going to lose in 2009 and just stop putting forth this nonsense that has zero chance of passing. BTW, for every $1 sent to Rmond, NOVA gets about 66 cents back.

  11. Groveton said on 30 Jun 2008 at 4:09 pm:
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    Starryflights -

    Interesting idea (and name). It’s happened before. The people of West Virginia broke with the ruling class in Richmond over the Civil War. The state of Virginia became smaller (and more triangular).

    Now, would your interest change if North Virginia also included present day Washington, DC? As freightening as it may be to many on this site, Barack Obama is leading John McCain right now (as far as I can tell). President Obama might think it’s time for the residents of DC to get full citizen’s rights. Maybe adding Northern Virginia (and Maryland’s Washington suburbs) makes for a more viable state.

  12. Groveton said on 30 Jun 2008 at 4:14 pm:
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    You wrote:

    “BTW, for every $1 sent to Rmond, NOVA gets about 66 cents back.”.

    Is there an “official” source for this?

  13. Red, White and Blue said on 30 Jun 2008 at 11:03 pm:
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    Groveton, I like your research and logic. I also agree that NV politicos don’t really have any idea on the money collected vs. spent on roads for NoVa. I got a big kick out of Duck Colgan bragging how he single-handedly built roads, leading to the defeat of Fitzsimmonds; especially all the roads around or near “his” airport. Duck is one of those who votes “yes” to taxes but is rarely seen or heard of most of the time. Note that Route 28, a mile past the airport, is still an old 2 lane road. Duck takes care of Duck. Yet people just keep reelecting the old guard.

  14. Advocator said on 1 Jul 2008 at 10:26 am:
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    Agreed, R,W,&B. Fitz could have jumped all over that one, claiming that any roads Chuckie built resulted in rampant overdevelopment, causing worse gridlock than before, and that only the road builders and developers benefitted from “his” roads. Unfortunately, Fitz lives in one of those developments.

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