Dear Editor, 

Part I of this column responded to a Dec. 10, 2021, Virginia Public Media article entitled, “Economic experts say Youngkin tax cuts could continue underfunding Virginia’s essential services.”  In fact, for decades Virginia spending on education and welfare has far exceeded the growth in population and inflation.  

Virginia Public Media also asserted that the current Virginia budget surplus of $2.6 billion exists because government is “underinvesting.”

They ignore two recent tax windfalls.  One is the Internet sales tax, which started July 2019.  The other is that Virginia failed to increase its income tax standard deduction to conform to the standard deduction increase under the Trump tax reform.  As a result, Virginians who used to itemize deductions were forced to take the low Virginia standard deduction and pay more state income taxes.

In announcing the $2.6 billion budget surplus, outgoing Governor Northam failed to mention how much of the surplus came from these two tax hikes.

Here are suggestions for reining in state and local spending and taxes:

1)Public schools are failing to teach reading and math because they use the quack “whole language” curriculum instead of intensive phonics and they replace math drills with hand calculators.  Fixing reading and math would raise achievement for all races, especially Blacks and Hispanics, and reduce racial inequality.  Graduates could get good jobs and not need Medicaid. Do not increase public-school spending until curricula are fixed.

2) Virginia pension systems have a $20 billion unfunded liability, despite doubling the taxpayer funding of the pension systems.  Do what private industry did long ago and replace pensions with defined-contribution plans.

3) Fairfax County saved $14 million by moving all employees from fixed-copay health plans to co-insurance plans.  This forces providers to publish prices and compete.  Virginia should do the same.

4) Cancel carbon credit auctions and the Virginia Clean Energy Act.  Don’t destroy natural-gas power plants, and complete the unfinished Lake Anna nuclear facility.  “Clean energy” is neither affordable nor reliable nor clean.  Germany, a world leader in clean energy, somehow still needs a natural gas pipeline … from Russia.  Solar cell and lithium manufacturing are polluters.  

5)Reduce real estate taxes by banning union contributions to local government political campaigns.  Salary increases drive real estate tax hikes, and right now unions sit on both sides of the negotiating table.

Finally, Virginia Public Media said that Virginia taxes and cost of living rank in the middle of all states.  However, they should not compare Virginia to other states, whose taxes and spending are probably also out of control.  Never-ending tax increases are the symptom of bad policies.  It’s time to fix the policies and cut the taxes.

Arthur G. Purves

President

Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance

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