Consider a recent comment from Del. Marcus B. Simon (D-Fairfax) regarding the ongoing federal lawsuit over whether the 2021 House of Delegates elections were constitutional.
In an interview with Brad Kutner of Courthouse New Service, Simon noted no one is really interested in this case except for the plaintiff, my former writing partner Paul Goldman. And that’s true. Despite the recent trickle of Democratic-leaning groups endorsing the idea of holding House elections in November, none have yet filed briefs supporting Goldman’s lawsuit. And as for their silence when Goldman was fighting the case alone against former Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D)?
Let’s just say it’s amazing the difference an election can make.
But Simon also said, “What’s particularly damaging about waiting another year?” to hold House elections in new districts.
True honesty, coupled with a peak behind the curtain. Politically, waiting a year puts House Democrats on the ballot in 2023 — not the 2022 Congressional midterms. Historically, midterms are bad for an incumbent president’s party, and that’s extends to state legislatures.
So the question is whether House Democrats are avoiding the possibility of real political damage. Even if it means thumbing their nose at the constitution of the State, of which requirement that elections in the new districts be held “immediately prior to the expiration of the current term in the year in which the Redistribution Act is to be enacted”.
And never mind that Democratic staple to support the right to vote. Basically, like their Republican counterparts, they seek above all to minimize risk and maximize the chances of re-election. To his lasting credit, Simon said he wasn’t opposed to running in November. The rest of his fellow delegates, Republicans and Democrats? As Kutner reports:
…conspicuously absent from the debate is the leadership of those who would be most affected by new elections: members of the House of Delegates. Neither the Virginia Democratic Party nor the Virginia GOP has commented on the legal dispute.
Their silence is all the commentary we need.
Speaking of Republicans and political silence: how about a little truth about taxes?
We got a dose of fiscal reality from former GOP delegate Jim LeMunyon, whose op-ed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch raised the question of creep bracket in the Virginia tax code (a topic I first discussed with him in 2017). As LeMunyon wrote, “Inflation raised Virginians’ taxes every year, without a vote from the legislature.”
LeMunyon noted that the state’s top tax rate, “which takes effect at a ridiculously low taxable income of $17,000, has not been adjusted since 1990.”
It’s 32 years of inflation inexorably increasing personal taxes, without the slightest murmur from the General Assembly.
There was a bill from Del. Joseph P. McNamara (R-Roanoke) to index not only state income taxes, but also “the personal exemption and additional personal exemption for the blind or elderly.”
According to the Ministry of Taxes tax impact statementescalation would reduce state revenue by $464.9 million by 2028. In other words, it would be a silent tax cut – something Republicans would assume , or at least those who remember how the federal government managed to index most personal taxes in 1985, would embrace.
Keep that in mind as the House and Senate negotiate whether to increase the personal deduction or finally eliminate the entire grocery tax. Tax cuts are nice and good. But without indexation, the state will recover everything – and more – thanks to inflation.