Virginia Special Session Ends With No Tax Hikes

Published September 1, 2008

Virginia taxpayers have won another round in their fight to hold down transportation-related taxes.

A special session called by Gov. Tim Kaine (D) to raise taxes and fees for transportation ended in July with no tax hikes.

In a meeting with reporters, Kaine complained, “Some of these [lawmakers] are really in a hole because they have been obstructionists, and the voters aren’t happy with that.”

Delegate Bob Marshall (R-Manassas) said he was happy with the outcome.

“Thankfully, there were no tax or service fee increases imposed on Virginians in the recent transportation session called by Governor Kaine,” said Marshall, who successfully opposed moves by some fellow Republicans to increase taxes and fees in the Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads areas.

Court Killed Earlier Increases

Kaine called the special session to replace hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes and fees the Virginia Supreme Court struck down earlier this year. The taxes and fees had been imposed by unelected “transportation authorities” state lawmakers created in 2007. The court ruled the legislature “may not delegate its taxing power to a non-elected body.” (See “Governor Tries to Replace Taxes Thrown out by Va. Supreme Court,” Budget & Tax News, August 2008, and “Va. Court Strikes Down $300M Tax Hike,” Budget & Tax News, June 2008.)

Joshua Culling, state government affairs manager at the National Taxpayers Union in Alexandria, said Virginia has plenty of money for transportation.

“Our stance is this: With a state budget that’s roughly doubled in 10 years, to say there is no more money for transportation is ludicrous,” Culling said. “We’d like to see them reprioritize spending. We’d also like to see an audit of VDOT [Virginia Department of Transportation] and other transportation-related entities.

“Ron Utt of The Heritage Foundation recently did a study that noted there are more than a dozen agencies with some sort of transportation authority in Virginia,” Culling continued. “That’s a lot of overhead and unnecessary taxpayer dollars.”

Steve Stanek ([email protected]) is a research fellow at The Heartland Institute and managing editor of Budget & Tax News.