Del. Tag Greason's HB971 vote: Citizen commentary is important but you have to get the facts right

With the various other concerns pressing in on me at the moment, my rounds of the various blogs/news sites I visit have slowed up considerably. I would have noticed this blog post at NovaTownHall Blog on a matter being discussed in the General Assembly right now, otherwise, most especially in that it deals with my Delegate to the GA, Tag Greason.

A brief aside: I generally like NovaTownHall Blog and I respect the opinions of those folks even when I disagree. They’re good people and they have pretty level heads on many matters of concern to Loudoun County. However…

While I applaud citizen commentary (after all, I engage in it myself), it is important to get the facts correct. That’s especially so when you’re launching a directed criticism. The post in question deals with HB971, a bill to establish and levy a tax (Yep! A tax.) to create a Northern Virginia Transportation Authority Sales and Use Tax Fund. Rather than re-invent the wheel, I’ll direct you to look at the text of the bill and at the NovaTownHall Blog post for details. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

The issue that jacob over at NTHB has with this is that Tag Greason was apparently among those who voted in support of this bill. That’s pretty much against what Tag campaigned he’d do if we sent him to Richmond and jacob is pretty upset at that. (The title of the post is “Tag Greason Disappoints.”) I’m fine with the level of detail jacob provides, but he’s missing something quite critical in his assessment of the bill’s status. You see, the vote he’s upset with wasn’t a vote to pass the bill. It was to continue the bill until 2011. In other words, the subcommittee Tag’s serving on decided to hold off discussion of this bill until later.

This is the reason why this matter didn’t rise to the level of my notice (and it would have, I assure you, had Tag voted to levy a new tax): no one moved to pass the legislation. Not yet. Directly questioned on the matter by a fellow LCRC member, Tag pointed this out in an e-mail and, as you can see from the bill’s status, it’s a matter of public record. What kills me about this is that jacob actually links to this notification in his post when he lists how the vote went. He just cropped out the part directly above the vote roll call that says, plain as day, “02/03/10  House: Subcommittee recommends continuing to 2011 (6-Y 4-N).”

There’s a very important part of Tag’s response that I feel everyone even remotely interested in this should know. Tag is most certainly a fiscal conservative, but reflexively rejecting any idea because it so much as references taxes isn’t the kind of thinking Delegate we need in Richmond. As Tag himself said, while some would choose to never discuss what might, potentially, be a risky solution:

…I am not that person.  I could have voted against the carryover motion, and the Bill would have died in Sub Committee, but I thought I owed it to my District to work on a potential Transportation Solution over the summer.  Killing this bill, and ALL discussions, is how we get into these situations in the first place.

Quite true. And whether you believe any tax at any time is a Double-Duty Bad Thing™ or not, it is the mark of a good legislator to discuss all of the options. You might find a gem hidden among the trash getting thrown around the committee chamber. It might, in fact, be the key element to a solution that serves the interests of the Commonwealth as a whole and handles the regional issue of transportation that’s hitting we in northern Virginia so hard at the same time. Tag’s vote isn’t a disappointment. It’s the sign of someone seriously committed to handling the issues before us, come what may. In the future, I’d recommend NVTB be sure to read all of what’s published about the bills being discussed in Richmond and not assume something about what vote was taken.

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5 comments

  1. My response to Tag :

    Tag :

    Thank you for the information. I know these things are tough and the devil is in the details. However, they can also be pretty straight forward if examined in the right light.

    Let’s look at this for a second. By your own admission most carry over bills carried over from a previous session die. If that is the case, and the bill in question is a tax increase, then why not kill it now. Think about this is a broader context.

    Just yesterday, I was listening to a great conversation on the radio about Keynesian ( sp ) v. Supply side economics. I learned much to my surprise that even Keynes himself was adamantly against tax increases during a recession .Keynes and I could not agree more. If those who consider themselves true Keynesian’s ( Obama Administration excluded ) and Supply Siders can agree that raising taxes in any way, shape, or form is bad and poor economics during a recession, then even discussions of tax increases during a recession this wide and deep is both bad economics, and frankly a waste of time. Sometimes a bad idea is just a bad idea.

    I can appreciate your desire to look at these issues from various angles. However, having marveled at the brilliance of Supply Side economics and being a cheerleader for its return, I consider discussions surrounding those things I know to be counterproductive to be a distraction at a time we can ill afford to lose focus.

    These times are like non other in our history. We have an administration in Washington who has chosen a third way when it comes to economics. They are applying tremendous negative downward pressure on our entire economic system.
    Pressure so intense, every tax increase or potential tax increase at every level has or will have an intensified negative effect across our entire economic system. This is something no other group of political leaders or legislators has ever had to deal with. If this is true, and I believe it is, then some not all of the institutional memory guiding legislators such as yourself should be discounted. Advice and council from those using historical data from circumstances in no way similar to where we find ourselves now, is not worth much. The actions of our own Loudoun County Board of Supervisors is a prime example of a legislative body using an obsolete paradigm to solve a problem never before encountered.

    Some Economics absolute truths had better take hold in Leesburg, Richmond and Washington or we will devolve into an economic slump that will take decades to climb out of.
    You can’t be held responsible for the foolishness taking place in Leesburg or Washington. However, you can have a positive effect in Richmond leading by example and rediscovering those economic truths that did not die with Ronald Reagan’s or Jack Kemp’s passing.

    In closing, I submit there are those out there, legislators and regular folks such as myself who would differ with your approach on this specific issue based on sound and reasoned philosophical grounds.

    In the end I know you will do a tremendous job in Richmond.

    Yours in Freedom

    Greg

  2. Good job Ric. I’m so glad the dialogue on this vote has been fair and balanced – did I just say that?

    Good job G!

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