Are Taxes on the Minds of Voters?

Today’s Washington Post covers the 67th District race in the Republican primary, between RINO-incumbent Gary Reese and the challenger, Chris Craddock.

What struck me in this story is that Reese says that taxes are not on the minds of the voters. He claims that in going door-to-door people talk to him about transportation, education, and maybe property taxes–but certainly no state tax issues.

That’s interesting because all the door-to-door experiences of the challengers point to a great voter frustration with the overall tax situation.

So is Reese downplaying the issue to justify his John Kerry like vote? — he actually voted for the tax increase before voting against it!

Or is it possible that Reese is partially right? Are voters primarily frustrated with property taxes going through the roof? If so, will they differentiate between state and local tax issues or will they go to the polls on June 14 and vote the rascals out of office?

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  1. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Phil, I have a hypothesis, which I developed in a previous post, that voters aren’t inflamed about rising property taxes because housing values are increasing so rapidly. Let’s say property taxes increase $500 per year. Nobody likes forking out the extra cash, but Joe Taxpayer comforts himself that the higher taxes are more than offset by a $10,000 increase in the value of his home. Now that banks make it so easy to tap homeowner equity, Joe Taxpayer has a ready source of funds to pay the higher taxes — and still feels good about his rising net worth.

    That logic will change, however, when the real estate bubble bursts. When the equity in Joe Taxpayer’s house is shrinking, he’s going to focus on those higher taxes with a vengeance. The political repercussions will be worst where the bubble has been the worst — Northern Virginia. Lucky you, Phil, you’ll be at the political epicenter of the next taxpayer revolt!

  2. sorrel Avatar

    Actually, Phil, in a lot of the Northern Virginia jurisdictions, the local governments have been lowering taxes on real property. I live in Fairfax with a particularly undisciplined and unsophisticated County Board. Even here, however, the BOS has lowered the tax rate over the past few years. I think that’s why generally, the electorate is not out in the streets on this issue.

    The tax problem we have (it’s a “problem” in a rather ironic sense) is rising home values. No one on the Fairfax BOS raised my taxes – it’s just that the asset they tax has increased famously in value. I do not want the BOS or Mr. Reese of Craddock to lower my home value. I do not want the General Assembly to lower my home value. I do not want the Governor to lower my home value.

    If my home falls dramatically in value I expect tax rates to go up. My guess is that if there is a marked decline in property values and my tax bill goes down, Phil won’t be giving credit to local pols for “lowering taxes.” He will instead say that they’ve raised my rates (although he gives no credit for lowering rates).

    The only way out of this morass is to get away from ad valorem property taxes altogether. It’s a huge task, because there has to be some way of replacing the revenue stream without compromising local control of schools and local police. Income taxes would solve the problem of taxing unrealized gains, but if collected by Richmond, I’d want some lead-cinch mechanisms for getting the monies back to the localities in equitable proportion to collections. I’d like to see this talked about in the campaign. It won’t happen in the GOP primary. One of the reasons it won’t happen in the primary is that the typical Republican is so cowed or bedazzled (or both) by the the “No New Taxes” device, that he or she won’t engage in a meaningful debate. Phil and his buddies contribute mightily to that sclerotic thought process. Maybe once we get past that silly season, some good thought will emerge.

  3. Waldo Jaquith Avatar
    Waldo Jaquith

    It warms my heart, how low the bar is for a Republican to be cast as a “RINO.” Here’s hoping they take the moniker as the threat that it is, and join us Democrats. ‘Cuz I’ve done the math, and if just half of the “RINO” delegates bolted, we’d have ourselves a healthy majority.

  4. Steven Avatar

    Who needs a political majority?

    Apparently, success is looming on Mark Warner’s version of ‘Animal Farm’ with his assorted collection of donkeys, elephants and rhinos. Because Virginia’s Got ‘Pork-a-bility’ with elected officials running hog wild in the General Assembly!

    Look at HB 1838, Taxpayer’s Budget Bill of Rights, from the 2003 session patron by Delegate Gary Reese in the waking hours of the tax increasing budget negotiations.

    First, lets deconstruct the myth that Governor put together the 17-delegates and that he made the deal. Some might go on the record as being duped. Lets not sugarcoat the issue.

    What’s Reesespieces excuse?

    After Reese signed on to the house agreement, Governor Mollycoddle signed his bill and then did nothing about it. Reesespieces was played like a fiddle. While 17-delegates danced the Mollycoddle jig with promises here and there.

    But the promise of a new state office will be added in Richmond … concerning state budget reform and state inspector general, poppycock I say!

    Why has the state government not done this? Mollycoddle did not, had nothing to do with
    it except ginning up the sky is falling fodder like a Governor ‘Chicken Little’ as he toyed with the citizen’s emotions and fears playing blind man’s ‘Marco polo’ in the muddy waters of AAA bond rating and with NY financial market’s bankruptcy threats?

    Where’s the documented proof … the state government paperwork … the estimates on state revenue projections … where might I ask is the 3rd floor accountability?

    The Blue Dog says the link between Moody’s and Warner should be explored since the other agencies said nothing on AAA bond rating.

    Good luck to challenger Chris Craddock!

    ~ the blue dog

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    Are higher taxes foremost among the concerns of the voters. They are running a very scientific poll on that question June 14. Stay tuned.

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