Currently, Northern Virginia taxpayers pay $65 million more in taxes than the rest of the state to help fund Metro, including an additional gas tax and 20% more in sales taxes. In Governor McAuliffe’s budget proposal being presented today NOVA residents will pay an additional $85 million in new taxes. Those increases would mean NOVA would pay $150 million of the $500 million that the state provides annually to pay for Metro.
NOVA taxes would increase on gasoline, providing a floor, but not a ceiling. Taxes on hotels would rise from 2% to 3%, and the Grantor’s tax on real estate transfer fee would increase from 15 cents per $100 of assessed value to 25 cents.
Speaker-elect of the House of Delegates Kirk Cox has said he would not support an increase in taxes for Metro without major reforms on labor costs and safety.
Congresswoman Barbara Comstock has put forward a bill in Congress to increase federal funding for Metro from the current $150 million to $225 million, “in exchange for creating a temporary reform board, adopting tough measures to hold down labor costs and other changes”. Of course this bill is very popular in Northern Virginia. Better to have taxpayers in Arizona and North Dakota, and every other state, pay for this bottomless money pit that is Metro, than increase taxes in Virginia.
Do you take Metro?
Do you drive on roads in Northern Virginia that would be more crowded if fewer people took Metro?
Do you live in a community in Northern Virginia that is prospering because of the growth of the DC area and all the new young residents and businesses that rely on Metro?
If so, congratulations, you live in a great place! And you also benefit from Metro and should be willing to pay for it. Metro needs dedicated funding. This is a much more equitable way to generate it than allocating funds from the state treasury.
We Virginians are good at living in denial. The percentage of the population living in urban and suburban areas has been increasing (all over the world) for more than a century. Conversely, the percentage of the population living in rural and small town areas has been declining for over a century. The cities and suburbs have gotten richer while the rural areas and small towns have gotten poorer. Nothing is going to change this trend over the next 30 years, at least. Yet our politicians insist on spraying money on economic development in rural and small town Virginia in an effort to buck a century long global trend. The best thing our government could do would be to encourage people to move from rural and small town Virginia to urban and suburban Virginia.
Urban and suburban areas are high service, high cost and liberal. Don’t believe me? Look at the way Harris County, TX has turned blue. Utah may have gone for Trump but Hillary Clinton got 10% more of the popular vote in Salt Lake County (home county for Salt Lake City).
If you live in Northern Virginia the good news is that many of the wealthiest counties in America are in Northern Virginia. There’s a lot of money in NoVa. The bad news is that NoVa will continue to urbanize, continue to become more liberal and continue to see rising taxes. Anybody who can’t handle the inevitable consequences of increasing density should seriously consider relocating to another area.
Finally, conservatives in Virginia need to seriously reconsider our state’s strong adherence to Dillon’s Rule. As Virginia continues to shift from rural to urban and formerly suburban areas like Fairfax County take on the demographics of a city the state will become more liberal. In a strong Dillon’s Rule state the localities have very little power. So, if you don’t like the liberal life you won’t be able to escape to some conservative locality. Even deep blue Maryland gives localities enough leeway that there are conservative enclaves in Western Maryland and on the Eastern Shore.
This is all true, and I appreciate that it’s written with conservative priorities in mind. But what you do that most seem to not do is acknowledge that cities are growing. Such is literally the story of human civilization. Cities are engines of productivity, creativity, and human civilization. By and large it is cities that subsidize rural areas, not vice versa.
Yes, the cities have been growing for a long time – especially since the mechanization of farming really took hold. The subtlety comes with Virginia’s odd system of cites, towns and counties. Theoretically, Virginia’s largest “city” is Virginia Beach. But Virginia Beach is really a county that just decided to become a city (in legal terms). Given Virginia Beach’s population density of 900 / sq mi it’s hard to see it as having “city problems”. Fairfax County with a population density of 2,800 per sq mi looks a lot more like a city than Virginia Beach.
Fairfax County is growing about 10% in population per decade. Alexandria and Arlington are much smaller, more densely populated and growing at about the same rate. In fact, with a population density of 8,800 per sq mi and a total population of 230,000 the “county” of Arlington is much more like a traditional city than the “city” of Richmond.
I believe that urbanization (as measured by population density across a reasonably large number of people) is a primary determinate of political outlook. As “Inner NoVa” (Fairfax County, Arlington and Alexandria) became more densely populated and “city – like” the inevitable change from right leaning to left leaning occurred. Nothing will change that. The idea that the approx 1.5m people of “Inner NoVa” will abandon Metro is far fetched. In fact, I’d argue that the latest Metro expansions will be followed by further Metro expansions – the next down Rt 1 in south eastern Fairfax County. More Metro = more taxes.
The real worry for conservatives in Virginia should be the 2020 census. At some point the state hits a demographic tipping point where it becomes Maryland-like at the state level. The 2020 census might be that tipping point. Conservatives will no longer have any effective say in how Virginia is run. But unlike Maryland, in Virginia there is no local power. Once the state-wide tipping pint is reached it’s game, set, match for conservatives in Virginia. Unless … conservative start to work now to cede more political control from the state to the localities.
There isn’t a lot of time left for conservatives in Virginia to wake up.
Fascinating. What’s awkward is that if localities get more power now, Northern Virginia localities are most likely to exercise it first by doing things that conservatives in Richmond don’t like. So you’re really asking them to play the long game and think about 5 years from now – or 15 years if 2020 is not the tipping point – at the expense of the optics of the next election. That’s a tough sell.
It is a tough sell because Virginia’s conservatives are in denial. Just today they lost the House of Delegates based on a recount. For the second time in a row the RPV lost all three of the statewide seats. The House of Delegates is tied (with no way to break a tie). The Republicans hold a one vote majority in the Senate. What happens in two years when all the Delegates and all the Senators come up for a vote? Donald Trump is suddenly a wonderful guy in the eyes of Virginians and he brings the House of Delegates back to Republican control while they continue to hold the Senate? Or, they lose a couple of more House seats and one or two Senate seats? If that happens the district gerrymandering for both House and Senate will be in the hands of the Dems. Add in a census that moves more power from the rural Republican strongholds to the suburban and urban Democratic strongholds and Virginia is well on the way to being Maryland.
If the Republicans could find a way to start watering down Dillon’s Rule in Virginia (probably a state constitutional amendment – which requires two election cycles) NoVa would do things that the conservatives don’t like. However, places like Chesterfield County and parts of Tidewater would be able to do things the conservatives like. On the present course and speed Virginia will be sky blue in Richmond with no real authority even in the most conservative areas.
What’s the alternative? Corey Stewart saves the day by beating Kaine and bringing momentum back to the Republicans? Really?
Governor McAwful’s legacy to Virginia is a decreasing population and turning us into NY State South. Well him and a bunch of RINO’s who voted D in November’s 2013 and 2017
Well, we did elect Democrats. So why should anyone be surprised that they want to tax us more? Is that not part of what we always get when we elect Democrats?
Besides higher taxes, what else do we get when we elect Democrats? Don’t we get more government, more government workers, more corruption, and a reduction in government services.
If we want a decent mass transit system, then we need to pay for the thing strictly with user fees. There is no reason people who don’t use a public utility, roads and mass transit systems included, should pay for something they don’t use. That just invites fraud, waste, and abuse. Unless people’s jobs depend upon satisfying their customers, they won’t do their jobs as well and as efficiently as they should.
The Metro has been around for decades. Still based upon 1960’s technology. So there is no way it can compete with just driving to work in a car using the Dulles Parkway and the Dulles Greenway (which don’t get subsidies). When driver-less cars become popular, that should kill the Metro. However, because of the subsidies, those with real estate near a Metro station will probably still want it, and those who ride it won’t really want to give it up. They will just want bigger subsidies.
Unfortunately, we are all special interests. We all get some little benefit from Uncle. We all tend to vote for politicians who promise us other people’s money. Hence, we all vote for big government fraud, waste, and abuse.
“There is no reason people who don’t use a public utility, roads and mass transit systems included, should pay for something they don’t use.“
Untrue. If you benefit from mass transit (e.g., your daily commute is less crowded and therefore faster), then you should pay for that benefit. Just like all Rightwingers, you think you are due something for nothing.
“So there is no way it can compete with just driving to work in a car using the Dulles Parkway and the Dulles Greenway (which don’t get subsidies).”
There is no Dulles Parkway and the Greenway is (in and of itself) a giant corporate subsidy.
I wish you would study economics. When government subsidizes something, it penalizes the people paying the taxes to pay for the subsidies. It does not benefit them. Since Socialism eventually gets around to screwing everyone, it does not benefit anyone except the ruling class.
Think about what this means.
“There is no reason people who don’t use a public utility, roads and
mass transit systems included, should pay for something they don’t use.“
That is saying we each should be willing to pay for what we use and expect others to do the same. Yet somehow you inferred I am asking for a handout. That is because instead of dealing with the issue you just attacked me.
You took this quote completely out of context and added your own crap.
“So there is no way it can compete with just driving to work in a car
using the Dulles Parkway and the Dulles Greenway (which don’t get
I said the Metro is based upon old technology. Why is that significant? When we get in a car, we go straight to our destination. We don’t make a bunch of stops on the way, and we don’t have to find additional transportation to get to and from a Metro station.
What would newer technology allow us to do? Current mass transit systems require drivers. That is old technology. However, we have the technology we need to automate the driving function. Instead of paying a human beings to drive large trains, we could build an automated transportation system that uses small vehicles to carry passengers directly to and from their destinations.
Why don’t we use the newer technology? Politicians don’t build things to satisfy customers. They spend our money to buy votes. Politicians don’t have to persuade us to give them our money. They just have to get enough votes so we empower them take it from us.
Listen to yourself. When do the politicians who use our money to buy votes depend upon? They depend upon our envy, greed, and hatred; not our good will and generosity. And you just proved that.
“When government subsidizes something, it penalizes the people paying the taxes to pay for the subsidies. It does not benefit them.”
This equation completely ignores both the tangible and intangible benefits of the subsidies. For instance, one of the benefits of farm subsidies is keeping food prices stable and affordable. Now I am no fan of agricultural subsidies but to ignore this side of the equation (as you do routinely) is dishonest. The fact of the matter is you routinely benefit from Metro regardless of whether or not you are a direct user. Having to pay for that benefit is legit. You choose to live here after all.
For free? Of course not. You want a road to drive on? Then when you use it, you should pay for the privilege. Somebody has to pay, and the people who use the infrastructure are the obvious choice.
In practice politicians use subsidies to buy votes and reward donors. Subsidies just hide the cost of what you buying. Instead of the customer paying the bill, the taxpayer pays whether he benefits or not. This sort of nonsense just distorts market economics.
Consider this example. Why don’t we subsidize beef production? Instead of buying food that is actually less expensive and even more healthy, when some business interest buys sufficient influence, we end buying food that is more expensive. We may even damage the environment.
Here is a real example. We now have regulations that effectively subsidize using corn to make fuel alcohol. That has raised the cost of corn because of increased demand. So people end up buying other grains when they might prefer corn. At the same time, fuel alcohol produced from corn requires as much energy to produce as it generates. So the regulations that require fuel alcohol harm the environment more than anything else.
Why are user fees better and sufficient? If a trucking company has to pay a toll to get the goods we want to buy to the store where we buy those goods, then the cost of the toll is included in the cost of the goods. Therefore, tolls or user fees ensure we pay for the roads we benefit from, even if we only benefit indirectly. At the same time, if we actually drive on a road, we pay a toll. Why that it not sufficient? Why pay for something more expensive than the alternative?
“Current mass transit systems require drivers. That is old technology. However, we have the technology we need to automate the driving function.”
“Instead of paying a human beings to drive large trains, we could build an automated transportation system that uses small vehicles to carry passengers directly to and from their destinations.”
For free, I suppose?