It was a wild day in Richmond today.
The festivities started in the House, which passed McDonnell’s transportation tax hike (minus the “fees” that were-taxes-in-another-name because they went to fund rail) by a 53-46 vote. Interestingly enough, it took 4 Democrats voting “Aye” to pass it. AG candidate Rob Bell and LG candidate Scott Lingamfelter both voted No, in accordance with their previous statements.
Things were a lot messier in the State Senate.
The Newman-Cuccinelli tax hike was introduced as a substitute to McDonnell’s tax hike (the Senate version), and it failed 18-22; the bill itself (SB1355) was recommitted to Finance. At first glance, the Republicans who voted “aye” looks like a horrific betrayal (Mark Obenshain, Ralph Smith, Ryan McDougle, Bryce Reeves, etc.). Only here’s the thing; the vote was on second reading, which is usually more about procedure (and more flat-out partisan) than substance (third reading tends to be the substance vote on all bills). For example, on HB2313 (the one which passed earlier today), yesterday’s second reading vote was 60-39, and included Bob Marshall and Mark Cole among the “ayes”. Both voted No on third reading.
So this may have been more the Democrats sending a message than anything else. On the flip side, major GOP talking-heads are flooding my Inbox touting the 18 Senators voting for “transportation.”
Either way, HB2313 still looms as a threat to the taxpayer. However, with all Democrats refusing to support anything unless redistricting goes down, Emmett Hanger joining them (so far, although I’m guessing it’s not for the same reason), at least some Republicans claiming to vote against any tax increases (which may or may not have been smashed by today’s second reading vote), and at least some Democrats not happy with anything currently offered because of losses to the general fund, it’s almost impossible to guess what will happen in the Senate before the 23rd (adjournment day, for now).
Meanwhile, a number of Senate Republicans have a vote to explain…
UPDATED: Grover Norquist has chimed in.
Defeat of SB 1355 Transportation Bill is a Victory for Virginia Taxpayers
“The defeat of SB 1355 demonstrates that the state senate understands that the Governor’s transportation proposal was not the best solution to Virginia’s transportation needs…HB 2313 remains as an unacceptable solution to Virginia’s transportation crisis. It contains a $607 million sales tax hike, more than $500 million in car taxes, and an internet tax scheme.”
Here’s the money quote: “In the last three years, Virginia has run a surplus of $1.4 billion. Less than $21 million of that went to transportation, a miniscule 1.5%.” Ouch.