UPDATED: The Bolling Report: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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This morning Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling sent out his latest Bolling Report which summarizes “the good, the bad, and the ugly” in the recently concluded but soon to be continued 2006 General Assembly session. He touches on the battle between the more liberal tax-and-spend Senate Republicans and the true fiscal conservatives in the House of Delegates when he says:

While many important pieces of legislation were approved by the General Assembly, other significant proposals failed to pass and the budget impasse reflects significant philosophical differences between Republicans in the Senate and House of Delegates.

Bolling lists some of the Session’s positive legislation as well as the failures to deal with issues such as Eminent Domain, Death Tax, and providing in-state tuition discounts to illegal immigrants who break our nation’s laws.

In discussing the coming tax hike battle in the special session, Bolling reminds us why we can count on him to defend our families’ wallets from the growing government behemoth in Richmond.

While I strongly support dedicating significant additional revenue for transportation constructions, I do not believe that it is necessary to increase taxes to accomplish this.

Virginia’s economy is currently growing at a very rapid rate. This economic growth will produce budget surpluses and new revenue growth sufficient to support a 19% increase in state spending in the upcoming biennium. Armed with such impressive economic growth, I do not believe it is either necessary or appropriate to increase taxes.

I am convinced that we can adequately fund the core responsibilities of state government and make a significant ongoing investment in transportation without raising taxes if we have the fiscal discipline to direct existing revenue sources to our most pressing needs and the budgetary restraint to resist the temptation to embark on a number of new and costly government programs.

The full Bolling Report is below the fold.

UPDATE:

Some have attempted to criticize Bolling's recent praise and support for the Communication Tax Reform package that was passed by the General Assembly. It is important to keep in mind that this reform will DECREASE taxes on anyone who has cable television, a landline phone or a cell phone while instituting a very small tax on satellite services. It basically benefits almost everyone in Northern Virginia and unlike the 2004 tax-hike, this is true tax reform (it is 100% revenue neutral). Just look at who was supporting the legislation: It was sponsored by Delegate Nixon, who is one of the most anti-tax Republicans in the General Assembly and it also had the strong support of Attorney General McDonnell. This clearly is not some ill founded tax-hike legislation, rather it is much needed commonsense reform that will save the average Northern Virginian upwards of $5 a month while adding a 60 cent monthly tax to satellite radio. Hell, my wife and I have two XM receivers (I love my Delphi RoadyXT) and we will still save money with this legislation!

Additionally, some are making the argument that Bolling supported raiding the transportation trust fund. Huh? Governor Gilmore’s introduced budget removed $600M+ from the trust fund and Bolling voted for the Senate budget that restored over $300M to that very same trust fund and he continues to champion the importance of the transportation trust fund today. He has always done everything within his power to protect the trust fund in the Senate dominated by moderate tax-and spend Republicans.

THE BOLLING REPORT, March 14, 2006

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY

2006 Legislative Session Ends – Special Session Set For March 27th

The 2006 session of the Virginia General Assembly ended on schedule on March 11th, but significant work remained undone, including the adoption of a new state budget for the 2006-2008 biennium and agreement on a plan for addressing Virginia’s highway construction needs. A special session to address these outstanding issues has been scheduled for March 27th.

As we look back on the 2006 session, it can best be characterized as “the good, the bad and the ugly.” While many important pieces of legislation were approved by the General Assembly, other significant proposals failed to pass and the budget impasse reflects significant philosophical differences between Republicans in the Senate and House of Delegates.

THE GOOD

During this year’s legislative session the members of the General Assembly gave their approval to several important pieces of legislation. The more significant measures approved by the General Assembly include:

Cable Competition – establishes a new procedure by which cable operators may obtain authorization to operate cable systems in localities. It is believed that this new system will enhance cable competition and reduce rates for consumers.

Small Business Health Insurance – authorizes the establishment of cooperatives for the purchasing of health insurance by small employers. It is believed that the formation of these cooperatives will reduce costs and make it easier for small employers to purchase health insurance for their employees.

Marriage – provides for a referendum in the November 2006 election on approval of a constitutional amendment to define marriage. The proposed amendment states that “only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid or recognized by the Commonwealth or its political subdivisions.”

Dangerous Dogs – provides criminal penalties for the owners of dangerous dogs by setting out a penalty scheme ranging from a Class 2 misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony for violations that result in serious injury or death of a human.

Sex Offenders – amends provisions related to the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry. Penalties are increased for certain sex crimes, including offenses involving a child under 13 years of age, and the list of offenses that qualify as sexually violent offenses is expanded.

Virginia Energy Plan – Requires the Commonwealth to develop a ten year comprehensive energy plan. The bill supports the surveying, exploration, and production of potential natural gas deposits in areas off the Commonwealth’s Atlantic shore. The bill also sets out a plan for siting nuclear power plants, wind power facilities, natural gas facilities and solar facilities; and requires state agencies to look for additional ways to reduce energy consumption.

Medicaid Long Term Care – requires the Department of Medical Assistance Services to establish a long term care partnership program between the Commonwealth and private insurance companies to reduce Medicaid costs by encouraging the purchase of private long term care insurance policies. Companion legislation provides a 10% tax credit for payment of premiums associated with the purchase of long term care insurance.

In State Tuition For Children of Military Personnel – permits the children of active duty military personnel who are assigned to a permanent duty station in Virginia and reside in Virginia to pay in-state tuition at Virginia’s colleges and universities.

Back To School “Tax Holiday” – provides a sales tax exemption for certain school supplies, clothing and footwear purchased during a three day period each year beginning on the first Friday in August. Exempt items are school supplies with a selling price of $20 or less and articles of clothing or footwear with a selling price of $100 or less.

Communications Tax Reform – simplifies the imposition of telecommunications taxes in Virginia by eliminating a number of existing state and local telecommunications taxes and applying a statewide sales and use tax rate of 5% to retail communication and video services.

THE BAD

Unfortunately, several other pieces of worthy legislation failed to receive the General Assembly’s approval. This defeated legislation included:

Death Tax – would have eliminated the death tax in Virginia. While the Senate and House of Delegates both passed legislation to eliminate the death tax, these bills differed in content. Unfortunately, these differences could not be reconciled before the General Assembly adjourned.

Small Business Health Insurance – would have provided a tax credit to employers with 50 or fewer employees who pay at least one half of the annual health insurance premiums of their employees.

Teen Drivers And Cell Phones – would have prohibited persons under the age of 18 from using any cellular telephone or other wireless communications device while driving.

Eminent Domain – would have tightened the definition of “public use” to eliminate potential abuses of state or local governments in utilizing the power of eminent domain. Would have prohibited the use of eminent domain if the primary purpose was economic development or expansion of the tax base.

In State Tuition For Illegal Immigrants – would have prohibited Virginia’s colleges and universities from allowing illegal immigrants to pay in state tuition.

Licensure Of Abortion Clinics – would have required abortion clinics to be licensed and comply with requirements currently in place for ambulatory surgery centers.

THE UGLY

When this year’s legislative session started, I said that the most important issue currently facing Virginia was building a transportation system for the 21st century. While almost everyone agrees that this will require the dedication of significant additional revenues to the Transportation Trust Fund, the members of the Senate and House of Delegates were unable to agree on a specific approach for accomplishing this important goal.

As discussed in past editions of The Bolling Report, Governor Tim Kaine and an overwhelming majority of the members of the State Senate support increasing a number of state taxes and fees to generate about $1B in additional funding for the Transportation Trust Fund.

However, the members of the House of Delegates have taken a more conservative approach, generating about $500M a year in additional funding for transportation purposes without raising taxes. The House plan would utilize budget surpluses and existing general fund revenue sources to generate additional funding for transportation.

I have made my position on this issue clear. While I strongly support dedicating significant additional revenue for transportation constructions, I do not believe that it is necessary to increase taxes to accomplish this.

Virginia’s economy is currently growing at a very rapid rate. This economic growth will produce budget surpluses and new revenue growth sufficient to support a 19% increase in state spending in the upcoming biennium. Armed with such impressive economic growth, I do not believe it is either necessary or appropriate to increase taxes.

I am convinced that we can adequately fund the core responsibilities of state government and make a significant ongoing investment in transportation without raising taxes if we have the fiscal discipline to direct existing revenue sources to our most pressing needs and the budgetary restraint to resist the temptation to embark on a number of new and costly government programs.

Unfortunately, the members of the Senate and House of Delegates were unable to resolve this issue prior to the scheduled adjournment of the General Assembly on March 11th. The members of the General Assembly will return to Richmond on March 27th for a Special Session to continue this important dialogue.

It has been a pleasure to publish The Bolling Report again this year. I hope the report has helped you better understand the issues being discussed in Richmond by your elected representatives. I will continue to keep you informed of developments in ongoing budget negotiations and other important state issues in the weeks to come.

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4 Comments

While I still think your website is a mouthpiece of the group B's of NOVA politics...

I have added you to my blogroll..for your tenacity.

Singleton said:

I guess we should put "with tenacity" below our award link. Thanks for the recognition, nonetheless, TC.

Anonymous said:

He couldn't resist trying to take a shot at y'all though. Title of the www.tooconservative.com link, "Nova Town Hall(Group B)."

Sophrosyne said:

Hey we'll take what we can get... it's good that all members of the ODBA promote all other members (even if they do so with their own strange catagorical distinctions).

Gracias TC.

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