A Tried, True, Honorable Way to Not Shut Down Government

Another post on the behalf of James Atticus Bowden:

Del. Phil Hamilton, R- Newport News, got his op ed response to Sen. Marty Williams (see “Republican Senator’s Blame Game on Transportation“) in the Daily Press on the lowest circulation day. Fewer folks get to see the truth.

Phil pointed out that the 1986 sales tax increase for transportation is a use of General Fund revenues that otherwise would be used for public education, public safety and health care. Also, Phil reminded Marty that he voted for budgets that used $339 million of general fund surpluses and general fund revenues from the insurance premiums tax for transportation.

Most importantly, Phil pointed out that Virginia’s Governors have used special sessions for special issues. Past governors cared too much about good governance and the Commonwealth than hold the budget hostage and push to a government shut down.

“In recent history, four different governors have wanted to address a major public policy initiative in their first term. In 1966, Gov. Mills Godwin wanted to impose a state sales tax to create the community college system. In 1986, Gov. Gerald Baliles wanted to address transportation (for the ‘permanent’ solution – JAB editorial addition). In 1994, Gov. George Allen wanted to abolish parole. Finally, in 1998, Gov. James Gilmore wanted car tax relief while several legislators wanted school construction funding. In each instance, the state budget was passed and a special session was called to address these initiatives”

“Gov. Timothy Kaine should follow this successful model of leadership in his desire to address the transportation issue this year.”

Yes sir, Phil!

Gov. Kaine and the RINO Senators could pass a continuing resolution or increase spending (as the House suggests) about 20 percent today with an additional $1 billion in new transportation funding – and set aside the “crisis” of transportation plans and taxes for a special session – today. There’s no problem, no crisis, in funding for government in the Commonwealth. There’s a surplus of revenue.

The phoney crisis that shuts down government will be the most cynical exercise in political power I’ve seen in a Virginia that was the only state name uniquely, uniquely I say, associated with the word “gentleman”, since Massive Resistance. We’ve come too low, and it’ll get worse, unless Gov. Kaine and His Lordship Sir John Chichester and the RINO majority in the senate put the People, our Commonwealth, ahead of their petty political passion for power.

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11 responses to “A Tried, True, Honorable Way to Not Shut Down Government”

  1. ShortPumpShorty Avatar

    This drivel from Phil Hamilton is pandering sophistry at its worst. The saddest part is that Phil absolutely has to know that what he is saying keeps people from knowing the truth. What a waste of Phil’s intellect.

    Phil is cited as saying the “1986 sales tax increase for transportation is a use of General Fund revenues that otherwise would be used for public education, public safety and health care.”

    Let’s be clear. In 1986 a higher sales tax was imposed. It brought in new money. It was dedicated to the Transportation Trust Fund. If the tax had not been raised those revenues to the state would not have existed. How in the world can Phil claim they “otherwise be used…?”

    Can anyone in the blogosphere explain how something that doesn’t exist can be diveted?

  2. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Shortpump: You missed the point that the Gov didn’t hold the budget hostage but had a special session.

    The point about a sales tax – which otherwise would go to the General Fund – is used for transportation is in response to the soup sandwich the RINOs are selling that different colors of money can’t mix.

  3. Gordon C. Morse Avatar
    Gordon C. Morse

    For whatever it’s worth, the 1986 special session was proceeded by a structured, nine month process that began with Baliles’ state of the commonwealth address and the creation of a bi-partisan transportation commission (which included all former governors and assorted other leading figures). The governor spent the entire period beating the drum to build public support, giving umpteen speeches on the subject (that’s the part I remember best). Baliles then formally received the commission’s report — no small trick to get consensus there — and took its recommendations to the General Assembly in September. It would have been a pointless exercise, however, had the legislature not been open to a wide range of options, including new taxes. Unless I’m missing something, that does not seem to be the situation now. Unless the House leadership comes off its present position – various expressions of “no” – why would other players see any useful purpose in a special session?

  4. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Gordon Morse: The useful purpose of a special session is to not hold the budget hostage. The useful purpose is to not crash government when there is no financial crisis, but a partisan disagreement about what to spend and what to tax for transportation.

    If the transportation special session came out to a stalemate, then all the rest of the business of the Commonwealth could go on swimmingly.

  5. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Gordon, I think you’ve made JAB’s point for him. Baliles made a point of building a consensus before endeavoring to pass a major tax increase. Today, there is no consensus. There has been no study commission agreeing upon a particular form of transportation financing. Indeed, the state Senate’s own study commission dissolved without reaching any meaningful conclusion. The Senate is trying to ram through legislation without popular support.

  6. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    The other thing is that the past 4o years after Massive Resistance have been marked by some comity among Republicans and Democrats to do what is best for the Commonwealth. To do no harm in governance. The partisan differences on big issues get resolved without sinking the ship over who will steer the ship of state. As a very partisan Republican, I recognize the good will the Democrats share with Republicans to govern well.

    Crashing the government is not in this mold.

  7. Jim Wamsley Avatar
    Jim Wamsley

    Instead of a report suggesting more money the governor got a report from the Auditor of Pubic Accounts that found the current system lacking. Maybe, fix it first, then raise money would be a better approach. Why aren’t we discussing what we get for our money ?

    The Commonwealth Lacks a Coordinated Transportation Plan
    Overall, we found the Commonwealth lacks a statement of clear objectives regarding transportation
    planning. Specific objectives for improving the Commonwealth’s transportation system include providing a seamless transportation network throughout the state by improving interconnections between all
    transportation modes. Coordination between all Transportation agencies is an integral part to the future
    success of the Commonwealth’s Transportation system.

  8. Anonymous Avatar

    Why the repeated references to Massive Resistance? Is there some code I’m missing?

  9. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    The ‘code’ is that is the last time the government of elected officials did something that would be so injurious to The People of the Commonwealth for partisan political reasons. Since then elected officials of both parties have been reasonably reasonable.

  10. Gordon C. Morse Avatar
    Gordon C. Morse

    About the above, Jim, I’m not sure we ever had popular support in 1986 for raising taxes. I suppose you could say that because no subsequent legislative effort was undertaken to repeal the ’86 tax hikes, then sufficient supported existed. But, I don’t know, taxes are always a tough sell in Virginia. The Senate has been open about its desire to fund transportation for several years now, so I don’t get the “ramming” reference. They’ve moved the methods around, to be sure, and I’m not sure that’s always been helpful, but their goal has been the same from the start: Pay the bill. John Chichester is on the side of the angels here. The House has its “surplus,” of course. But what does it take to create a surplus? You just ignore things. Both chambers acknowledge the validity of the Auditor of Public Accounts’ report that a $1.1 billion backlog of deferred maintenance (that’s just for the critical stuff) for state facilities is not being unaddressed. New accounting standards are going into effect soon that will highlight state post-employment benefit obligations presently being handled on a pay-as-you-go basis. I had a couple of conversations about this last week, after seeing a report in the Bond Buyer, and, sure enough, there’s a huge chunk of change involved and the ’07 session will have to take it on. So where does that leave the surplus? More a function of art than science, I’d say.

  11. James Atticus Bowden Avatar
    James Atticus Bowden

    Surpluses are a function of spending as much as revenue. Instead of spending increases of 19%, you can increase spending 18%, and ‘voila’ the surplus increased significantly.

    If you raise taxes, you kill jobs. Cut taxes and increase revenue.

    There is money enough to set priorities and fund the top ones now. If that is maintenance, then do maintenance first and see if there is enough money for number two. The Senate could propose this today – and not hold the government hostage. The Senate could have done it anytime in the past.

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