As the Virginia General Assembly discusses the budget for this year, it is clearer than ever that Governor McDonnell’s cuts-only approach to Virginia’s enormous budget shortfall is unrealistic and impossible. More than 90% of the proposed $880 million in cuts are to education and healthcare. We cannot rob the citizens of Virginia of such vital services because the Governor and lawmakers in Richmond refuse to consider any other options.
Even conservative chair of the House Appropriations Committee Delegate Lacey Putney understands this. He has introduced House Bill 1239, which would increase Virginia’s sales tax to 6% from 5% and would dedicate half of the estimated billion dollars in new revenue to help repair our dangerous and damaged roads. Though a “blunt-speaking conservative and fiscal hawk,” Putney knows that the Governor’s cuts-only approach won’t solve any of the serious problems Virginians are facing today.
Taking a cuts-only approach to the budget is not possible when wasteful spending has already been eliminated. Lawmakers in Richmond need to close egregious tax giveaways and loopholes like the yacht owner’s loophole and tax credits for coal companies and many others that cost $12.5 billion annually and consider new streams of revenue so that vital programs that support the middle class survive.