Bill shows some responsible work

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 11, 2004

Suffolk Del. Chris Jones is deserving of congratulations for his work in crafting the compromise House Bill 5018.

The bill signals a willingness by at least some (sensible) House members such as Jones to craft a comprehensive, biennial budget that can move the state forward by meeting its long-term financial needs.

Suffolk City Council drafted a letter last week to budget conferees and the local delegation urging passage of 5018 and opposing HB 5008, &uot;a stopgap, makeshift budget…&uot; that &uot;will not provide sufficient funding or resources to meet Virginia’s service obligations and commitments and will further shift these funding responsibilities to local governments, exacerbating reliance on local real estate tax revenues.&uot;


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In addition, council members note that local governments are in the final days of preparing their annual budgets and that the state’s delays in adopting its biennial budget has created &uot;great uncertainty&uot; and will soon begin to have significant repercussions on local programs and services.&uot;

The point is that whether or not the General Assembly acts like mature responsible adults and fulfills its obligations, those services will not be cut. The tax burden will merely be shifted from the state to the localities. So don’t be taken in by politicians who come back at election time claiming to have cut your taxes – all they really did was dodge their responsibility because the state is constitutionally obligated to fund certain programs. Delegates need to provide the funding or change the laws. Most appear to lack the courage to do either.

Interestingly, many anti-taxers claim that economic growth induced by lower taxes will generate the revenue the state needs. Unfortunately, as Virginia’s roads, bridges and schools – key quality of life elements that are high on any prospective company’s list when considering whether to locate in a state – continue to deteriorate, those companies that could provide the needed economic stimulation will be looking at other states – state’s that put a higher priority on the basics.

Jones’ leadership on the issue is essential to Virginia’s progress and should be appreciated by not only his constituents, but all Virginians.