Monday, February 20, 2006

Crisis or No Crisis?

The House of Delegates and the state Senate rolled out their full budget proposals yesterday, setting the table for... a big fight. Here's links to some of the coverage:
Washington Post
Associated Press
Here's a quote from the Post story that suggests how the GOP House wants to frame it:
'"Where does it stop? What's the crisis next year?" asked House Majority Whip M. Kirkland Cox (R-Colonial Heights). "Every time there's a perceived end-of-the-world crisis, we're going to raise taxes? Where does it stop?"'
I suppose the answer is, it stops anytime you try to drive somewhere.

Along with the budget work yesterday, somebody is doing some polling - I got called yesterday by some polling firm and quizzed for about 15 minutes on the particulars of the competing transportation budget plans. Among the questions: Did I consider the House budget a 'hidden tax plan' because it would eventually mean higher college tuitions? Do I favor a special legislative session if they can't reach agreement? Would I support legislators who backed Kaine's plan? And so on. Beats me which side wanted to know - the questions tried out sound-bite themes from both camps.


At 10:25 AM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

Those polls make me crazy. they don't want an answer, they want to know what is politially advantageous, or even worse, to ask questions designed only to promote their own agenda.

At 3:37 PM, Blogger Toomanytaxes said...

Ray Hyde: I sense that Kaine's win and especially Herring's easy win has scared the devil out of many politicians. For many years, they have been able to finesse the land development issue, so as not to rile up the real estate industry that is a big campaign contributor to all sorts of politicians and still avoid confronting voters at home. Those two elections have made it pretty darn clear that the old magic trick won't work anymore.

I'm not persuaded that either Kaine or Herring is truly committed to restricting land development, but they both said that they would do so under appropriate circumstances. They've raised expectations among voters, at least in Metro areas, that the development goes on unabated under any circumstances rules should be changed. So, now the senators and delegates must choose between the biggest contributors and a sizable number of voters who are anti-development. I suspect that many legislators are hoping against hope that these polls will find a "third way" that permits the great finesse to continue.

At 1:34 AM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

I don't doubt you re right, TMT.

For now.

But when people's children are still living at home when they are forty, and when housing costs 7 to 10 times income instead of 3 or 4, then their attitude will swing the pendulum the other way.

Surely there is some middle ground.

At 12:34 PM, Blogger Toomanytaxes said...

Semi-rhetorical questions: Do we need a complete stalemate for a couple of years before parties start searching for a middle ground? Never building anything new, at any place, at any time does seem reasonable. Building everything, at any place, at any time seems just as absurd. There's lots of room between those two positions. Since the development community seems to have more to lose by change, what type of deadlock would it take for that group to put something substantial on the table?

Will the market correct itself? At some point, businesses will not continue to move to NoVA because of the high costs and overused infrastructure. People will look for less expensive and more desirable locations. Similarly, at some point, the level of federal contracts fueling NoVA will abate somewhat. Does anyone believe that a John McCain or a Hillary Clinton, for example, would spend as much money on contracts as is currently being done? What if there's a big shift to bio-medical contracts? Hello Maryland & California.

How much longer can Virginia and local government increase spending at rates that substantially exceed the growth in income? Factoid: From 2001 to 2004, average family income in Fairfax County fell from $99,100 to just over $90,000. (Source: Fairfax County Dep't of Finance).

What would it take to move beyond today's unacceptable situation and to avoid a government openly hostile to development?

At 5:04 PM, Blogger Toomanytaxes said...

Erratum: I mistakenly stated that average family income in Fairfax County decreased. The correct measure is "median family income." The figures are correct, however.

Sorry, my error.


Post a Comment

<< Home