That’s Our Money. Give It Back.

by Kerry Dougherty

We’re rich! Really rich. Rolling in dough kind of rich.

Perhaps you heard: Against all odds, Virginia is ending the fiscal year $500 million in the black.

On top of that, state officials are drooling over another $4.3 billion in federal loot that is expected to drop momentarily.

Wait. There’s more.

Any day now, Virginia should get $6.6 billion from the feds for public schools, childcare, transportation and public health.

Unless my little iPhone abacus is wrong, that adds up to more than $10 billion spilling out of the state coffers.

That sound you hear is state officials clapping their hands as they decide where to blow the money.

Some of the federal money comes with strings attached, of course. But that $500 million surplus? That’s state money earned the old fashioned way: By overtaxing citizens.

So what to do with it?

Here’s a radical idea not being considered in Richmond: Give it back.

You heard me. If the state has a massive surplus of money it’s because taxes are too high.

Return the windfall to the taxpaying schlumps who sent it to the capital. Even small “thank you” checks to hard-working Virginians who are suffering from inflation sticker shock would be appreciated.

This isn’t as radical as it sounds. Some states have constitutional amendments that mandate the return of excess funds.

Colorado for instance.

In 1992, voters in Colorado approved a Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights amendment to their constitution. TABOR, as it’s called, says state and local governments can’t raise taxes without voter approval and can’t spend excess revenues that exceed inflation and population growth.

Any funds that fall under the provision are returned in the form of rebates to the taxpayers.

After the last 16 months of misery, Virginians could use some cheering up. An unexpected check in the mail would help make amends for Richmond’s lockdowns and curfews.

There are very few things about Colorado that Virginia ought to emulate. But, heck, we’re following the rocky Mountain State’s lead on weed, why not on taxes?

This column is republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.