Since getting involved in the new media, and placed on many different press release distributions, I’ve found it fascinating to see what the different caucuses want to discuss. This week has been no different because each caucus had a completely different focus.
First, Senate Republicans are all geared-up on health care. The two primary bills they want to discuss are SB 843 and 885…both which they oppose. The argument is the usual one – Democrats have their heart in the right place while they simultaneously fleece the taxpayer.
According to the release, “Senate Bill 843 calls for an immediate increase in the medical malpractice cap from its current level of $2 million to $2.75 million with increases every year thereafter” and “Senate Bill 885 would alter current law by permitting drug-related personal injury lawsuits to be filed within two years after the person discovers, or reasonably should have discovered, an injury resulting from negligence of another, rather than Virginia’s current standard of two years from the date of injury.”
On the surface, those two bills probably make a lot of sense, but the GOP argues:
“The costs of healthcare have risen above inflation and that families are finding it harder to pay their premiums. My colleagues and I agree that this is not the right time to pass legislation that will increase the costs of those premiums,” said Senator Steve Newman. “Communities all over Virginia have seen a decline in specialists due to the increase in the cost of malpractice insurance. These problems would only be exacerbated by the passage of S.B. 843. In the meantime, S.B. 885 would only add to the concern by driving up the cost of prescription drugs. I am pleased that all of our Senators found agreement on opposing these bills this year.”
Senate Democrats were completely silent. They had nothing to say this week. (I wonder if they removed me from their distro, cause it’s been awhile since I have seen anything from them.) Kudos, though, to Senators Northam and Miller who broke with their party and voted for the confirmation of Les Lilley to be Circuit Court Judge. The Virginian-Pilot called this a “hit” (as opposed to a “miss”)…and so do I. The Commonwealth Coalition – Virginia’s Gang of Four – is starting to exercise their electoral muscle…much to the dismay of folks like Sen. Yvonne Miller – one of only two Democrats to oppose Lilley. Apparently the other Democratic senators took a walk.
House Republicans didn’t have much to say this week either, although last week they did pass legislation tightening fund raising rules and voted to table the expansion of completely free absentee voting.
However, the most ridiculous proposal of the week came from House Democrats. Once again, they engage in class warfare:
The Middle Class and Small Business Tax Relief Act will repeal the state sales tax on groceries, repeal the corporate income tax for businesses making less than $100,000 per year, and cut the personal income tax for Virginians making between $17,000 and $75,000 per year, all while protecting existing money that is dedicated to public education and transportation.
Eliminating the current 1.5 percent state sales tax on food will provide roughly $230 million per year of tax relief for 7.6 million Virginians in nearly 3 million households. Eliminating the corporate income tax on businesses making less than $100,000 per year will provide $10 million in tax relief to 22,000 businesses. Lowering the personal income tax rate to 5.6 percent for people making between $17,000 and $75,000 per year will provide $130 million in tax relief to more than 1.4 million Virginians.
Currently revenue from one percent of the state sales tax on food is dedicated to local governments for public education, and revenue from the remaining one-half percent is dedicated to the Transportation Trust Fund.
“It was absolutely critical to craft this bill in a way that provides the tax relief while protecting those vital resources,” said Englin.
To accomplish that, the proposal would raise the income tax rate on people making more than $400,000 per year by 1.1 percent, affecting roughly 30,000 Virginians, or the wealthiest four-tenths of a percent of the state’s population. Moreover, the legislation is written to ensure that there is no change in the amount or the timing of the current funds that go to local governments for public education and to the Transportation Trust Fund.
I do not come even close to making $400K per year. But what I do know, is that people who do, buy things. The last thing we need to do in a down economy is raise taxes – on anyone – but in particular not on those who provide the fuel for making the economy better.