The Senate Finance Committee has passed an amended HB 5018, including a provision that applies the brakes to the repeal of the car tax.
Two reports tonight provide confusing and perhaps conflicting information. The Washington Post reports:
The Senate would raise $984 million for the state’s general fund by increasing the sales tax by a quarter-cent, increasing the tobacco tax on cigarettes to 30 cents per pack, lowering income taxes, increasing deed recording fees and eliminating tax breaks for elderly Virginians and corporations.
But it would raise an additional $378 million — through another quarter-cent increase in the sales tax — for a special fund for education that will go directly to local governments and could encourage lower property taxes. It would also lower taxes on groceries more slowly than the House proposal and would defer elimination of the estate tax.
The Associated Press on the Richmond Times-Dispatch web site provides less detail and suggests the total package is only the $984 million in new revenue:
Amendments the Senate added to a House tax measure passed two weeks ago also remove a House provision that would eliminate the tax paid posthumously on the estates of multimillionaires.
The package, due for a vote by the full Senate and the House of Delegates on Tuesday, would generate $984 million over the course of a two-year state budget.…
The yearly limit on state reimbursements to cities and counties for revenue lost to phasing out the local tax on personal cars and pickup trucks and eliminating the House’s estate tax repeal are the only substantive changes the Senate proposed to the House Bill 5018….
They also recommend raising the levy on recording real estate transactions, closing some loopholes corporations use to send profits out of state tax-free and removing some sales tax exemptions for public utilities.
The Post provides the political drama:
Brian J. Moran of Alexandria, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said that more than a half-dozen Democratic delegates from Northern Virginia believe that freezing the car tax hurts their constituents and that the traditional formula for distributing the new tax revenue favors poor, rural parts of the state.
Several said they represent more than enough votes in the 100-member House to defeat the bill, raising the prospect that legislators from Warner’s party might doom his legacy proposal.
“This is the last thing I want to do,” said Del. Kristen J. Amundson (D-Fairfax). “In addition to being in the same political party, I really like the guy. This is really hard. But the assumption has always been that Fairfax will always just go along. Honest to God, on this one, we just can’t.”
Moran said he and the other Democrats would review the bill Monday night and Tuesday morning to see if it “is fair and balanced.” Del. J. Chapman Petersen (D-Fairfax) said that although he had not had a chance to look closely at the bill, he had concerns and might not be able to support it.
“I love Mark Warner, I respect Mark Warner, but I will do what’s best for my constituents,” he said Monday evening.
I’ll bet you Kris Amundson, Chap Petersen and Brian Moran never thought they’d be players at this stage. It will be interesting to see if they hold ‘em, fold ‘em or up the ante.