GOLDMAN: Does meals tax mean Chesterfield, Henrico are run by liberals?

Paul Goldman is a local lawyer who helped run Doug Wilder's historic campaign for governor of Virginia.

Paul Goldman is a local lawyer who helped run Doug Wilder's historic campaign for governor of Virginia.

by Paul Goldman

The allegedly “conservative” political leaders of Chesterfield and Henrico want the middle class to pay tens of millions more in tax dollars in order to cover tens of millions in budget deficits.

Of course, they aren’t phrasing it quite this way, covering it up with the usual yada, yada, yada.

But the fiscal facts are clear: They want to spend X, and right now the taxpayers are paying Y: and since X is millions more than Y, this leaves them with tens of millions in potential budget deficits.

Fortunately, some of the laws that some of us have worked on over the years prevents them from allowing the Board of Supervisors in Henrico and Chesterfield to force all that new debt on the taxpayers. We have blocked them.

ENTER then the drive by the political leaders of each county to increase the Meals Tax. Being clever in the way of politics, they claim this money will only go for stuff that sounds really good, like school, firefighters, police officers, you get the drift: if voters won’t approve new taxes, they don’t care about their kids, whether their neighbors apartment burns down, or catching the criminals threatening our families.

Besides, they say: it will only be an extra .80 cents on a $20 meal. Only someone who hates kids, cops, and loves robbers would be against that.

Heck: I feel bad writing this column! Shame on You Paul!

But someone has to tell the truth here.

Chesterfield and Henrico have been run like plantations for too long. In that regard, I have to at least credit the political leaders for putting the Meals Tax increase to a vote. It is legally not binding on them. But as a political matter, the voters will get to decide the issue: the majority will rule on this issue, as it should in a democracy on such matters.

But it isn’t fair to paint those who oppose the Meals Tax increases as the “bad guys” in this matter.

FACT: Chesterfield and Henrico have been wasting money and giving special breaks to special interests for a long time. There is many millions of accumulated largess in their governmental budgets.

That needs to be acknowledged to have a fair debate. On the other hand, this paying off special interests has shortchanged important priorities to pay political and other debts.

Such is politics, surely I am not going to say this comes as a surprise.

But what’s the cure?

The fact is this: Giving government these extra tens of millions in new taxes DOES NOT GUARANTEE they will be spent as advertised. There is no legal way to do it with the referendum proposed. The public needs to know this.

Regardless of what the Board of Supervisors promises TODAY to get the new taxes approved in the referendum this November, THEY CAN DO WHATEVER THEY WANT WITH THE MONEY under current law.

FACT: The real incomes – that is to say what the average middle class person is making today after you take into consideration the increased cost of living over the years – is actually down an historic amount in recent years. EVEN WITH two incomes families, the average middle class family is no better off than the 1970′s when one income families were still the norm. This is what economists know by looking at their stats.

I know this seems impossible: but you know it to be true in your own situations. Just because you earn a lot more than your parents doesn’t mean your real income – adjusted for the time-value of money – is greater.

The average family has basically no real savings for retirement.

It is easy to “nickel and dime” the public, especially when we tell them they are “bad people” if they won’t add a few “pennies” to a restaurant bill to help the kids, the cops, the firefighters.

The GOLDMAN BOTTOM LINE:

Unless there is a honest debate in the counties on these measures, then the public is being ripped off in my view. Yes, education in the counties, in the state, as I have shown over the years, has some very serious issues. For example, both Henrico and
Chesterfield do have a lot of old schools. YET not a single member of the Boards of Supervisors or Schools has helped me save them HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.

I got the Governor, our two Senators, even Eric Cantor on board. It would save these localities HUGE on the cost of fixing up the schools.

ALL that saved money could go to better fire and police protections.

BUT they refuse to help.

It was hard putting together a Republican and Democratic coalition here. But no one would help.

SO: If the people of the counties want to pay millions more before exploring all the ways to save them money, this is their business. My job is to lay out the facts for an honest debate.

As the saying goes: forewarned is forearmed. Paying a big new Meals Tax actually is just giving the politicians millions more of your money for the same ole same ole in a different package, don’t blame the liberals: you need to blame your alleged conservative county leaders.

Record new state taxes this year for transportation, now record meals taxes for Henrico and Chesterfield. If that is “conservative” government, I would like to see what “liberal” government looks like.

Paul Goldman is in no way affiliated with WTVR.  His comments are his own, and do not reflect the views of WTVR or any related entity.  Neither WTVR nor any of its employees or agents participated in any way with the preparation of Mr. Goldman’s comments.

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