Sen. Obenshain: “I oppose raising taxes. Always have.”

In an earlier post, I noted a line from the Conservative Caucus press conference where Sen. Mark Obenshain was quoted by Capital News Service reporter Mark Robinson as saying “…he wasn’t opposed to raising taxes to fund transportation, as long as the burden would be shared by both Virginians and people from out-of-state.”

It was a stunning remark, and I was certain it would gain notice. It did: from Sen. Obenshain. He has released the following statement:

“A recent article falsely stated, without attribution, that I was “not opposed” to tax increases. This is categorically false, and it is important to correct the record. Throughout my career in the Senate, I’ve stood firmly against tax hikes, even when some members of my own party brought pressure to bear. I’ve voted against budgets because they were fiscally imprudent, and I’ve always voted to reject raising taxes. That has not changed.

“We have to find ways to put more resources into transportation, but that’s a matter of prioritizing transportation spending within the existing budget, not raising taxes. This year, I’m introducing legislation to devote the bulk of any future state surplus to transportation and I’ve long supported measures to increase the proportion of existing state revenue dedicated to transportation. I support increasing our allocations to the Transportation Trust Fund, and I’m once again carrying the Lockbox Amendment to protect that trust fund against raids, but let me be clear: I oppose raising taxes. Always have.”

Well okay then.

I think the source of the problem can be found by looking at this video of the Conservative Caucus presser, which took a while to find. Fast forward to around the 20 minute mark, and you will hear Sen. Obenshain discuss the Governor’s transportation plan and his concerns with it:

No, Mark does not call for a tax increase. He does say that the current proposal would put a higher burden on Virginians than out-of-state drivers. So where does the quote come from? In part from a possibly garbled interpretation of the arguments Del. Jimmie Massie made beginning around the 25 minute mark. In brief, Massie says conservatives aren’t opposed to greater government revenues — as a result of economic growth, which is spurred by low tax rates. They are against higher marginal tax rates.

Are we all clear now?

  • Glad that was cleared up quickly… one more instance of the speed of the blogosphere cracking the pathology of the MSM.

  • Mike Barrett

    So what is his alternative? That comment is as irresponsible as they come, essentially continuing to cause the destruction of the Commonwealth’s transportation infrastructure. Frankly, a Senator who expresses such a course of action should be prosecuted for malfeance instead of rewarded with a higher pension. No wonder Virginia is no plunging with its business ratings, and will soon drop to the bottom as our infrastructure deteriorates even more. Tolls everyone?

    • What roads in Hampton Roads are visibly crumbling, Mike? Please name for me a highway or major thoroughfare that has more than one unfilled pothole every tenth of a mile.

      Spare us the hyperbole, Mike. Paving our way out of our gridlock is not the answer. Ever since I moved to Hampton Roads more than twenty years ago it’s been “our transportation is awful!”

      Well, I got news for you, I spent a year in Haiti. Our transporation system is world class.

      What we need to do is start considering other innovations, like greater public safety in the cities, which might encourage folks to live where they work. How about tax incentives for doing so? How about telecommuting?

      This will be the subject of my upcoming editorial for the radio program, but your continued focus – which is probably due to your construction-based self-interest (nothing wrong with that, by the way) – on what really is an outright lie, needs to be responded to.

      • Mike Barrett

        I-264 for one; I-64 for another. And J.R., don’t ever look up if riding in a boat under a bridge here. You will be visibly shocked. And J.R., is the normal congestion at choke points just considered by republicans to be the cost of living in Hampton Roads?

        The Governor’s proposal is insufficient, complicated, and designed to fail.
        So why propose it in the first place?

        My theory is that Republicans are finally coming to understand the damage
        they have done to our transportation infrastructure, and they now realize all
        their ideology and bravado about finding revenue elsewhere and refusing to raise taxes as required is a total failure; frankly, they don’t have a clue want to do about it.

        So they keep lying to us, no surprise there, but they are having an
        increasingly difficult time continuing to lie to themselves and each other. And
        their caucus is starting to hear from moderate republicans who realize exactly what has happened; defeat in a big election has a way of bringing that forward.

        In this next election they may still win the House, but the constituents of
        these no tax rural and suburban delegates who will be required to pay outrageous local taxes and tolls, and see their infrastructure ruined just like ours, they will realize the effect of the malfeasance the inaction of these politicians they have caused, and they will look for candidates with solutions, not more excuses.

        • You honestly think I-264, which was “recently” built and I-64, which has had major “recent” expansion in Chesapeake and Indian River, not to mention the regular work near the HRBT and mixing bowl, are “crumbling”? If that’s a failing infrastructure, I want to know what your expectations are.

          We are not going to pave our way out of more congestion either. We need to begin to incentivize a change in transportation behavior, as I mentioned before. Resurfacing lanes, expanding lanes, rebuilding bridges – it’s all wonderful, Mike, but very expensive and, unless you start producing data, unecessary.

          • Mike Barrett

            J.R., I have to admit to being shocked and perplexed at your dismissal of required maintenance, repair, and improvement for our transportation infrastructure. Frankly, you attitude reflects the policies of the republican party; that is, obfuscate and deny the need for a sustainable funding source. Even your Governor has acknowledged that need while realizing that the no tax republicans will refuse to provide that to him or any other Governor.

          • Don’t twist my words. I never said required maintenance and repair should not occur. You continue to push, Mike. One cannot have a ratinonal conversation if you only desire to demonize and diminish the other person’s thoughts. No one wants dangerous roads. We all want our infrastructure to be efficient and safe. That, I think, is a nice starting point to a conversation. But if you want to paint me as some sort of radical extremist, our conversation is over.

          • Mike Barrett

            Well J.R., I too want infrastructure that is efficient and safe; we don’t have that now. I don’t want dangerous roads, but we have them now. For a State Senator to imply that we can have quality transportation infrastructure at the same tax rate we had in 1987 is absurd on its face, and to me represents the kind of radical extremism that does not serve our Commonwealth well.

          • You have not come out with one concrete proposal yet, Mike. All you do is speak in generalities.

            You don’t define the problem and you never show numbers.

            You never discuss things like average wait or commute times. You never discuss what is acceptable wear. You never mention how often a road should receive regular maintenance and upkeep.

            All you do is say “the roads are bad.”

            Until you come up with some evidence and some metrics, you’re just being contrarian.

            I believe data – not opinion.

          • Mike Barrett

            Yo want metrics? The Virginia Chapter of the ASCE rates the condition of our roads, bridges, and tunnels as a D-. Can they get any worse?

          • Link and/or name of the study, please.

          • Mike Barrett

            Frankly J.R., you could do this just as easily as I can, but of course, you won’t. Remember, D-; that is all the metrics you need.

          • You’re the one trying to make the case. You have the burden of proof. If you can’t produce it, I can only conlcude you’re making it up.

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