This letter re-posted from The Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Delay tax increases until economy recovers
The op-ed column by Del. Dave LaRock, R-Loudoun, “We can do this; Gov. Northam can help,” was insightful and on target. One suggestion to Gov. Ralph Northam was to postpone for 12 to 18 months any legislation that imposes regulatory or financial burdens on Virginians or their businesses, including tax increases at the state or local levels. These impactful decisions should only be made after the full economic impact of the virus is known.
There are two proposed tax increases that I find hurtful: fuel taxes and tobacco taxes. Fuel taxes hurt tourism to our state, which impacts restaurants, hotels, parks, beaches, etc. These entities already have been decimated by the virus and will need help to reopen. Tobacco taxes hurt farmers, tobacco workers and convenience stores the most. Tobacco has helped Virginia’s economy for 400 years. Philip Morris USA donated an $8 million property to Richmond Public Schools and in return, the city increased taxes on cigarettes and now the state wishes to impose more. Both taxes bite the hands that help us.
The RTD’s Michael Martz reported that the General Assembly still intends to meet April 22 to take up amendments on winter session legislation. They should cancel the session and stay at home as per Northam’s own order. There is no way that Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne, Northam chief of staff Clark Mercer or the governor himself can accurately predict where the economy will be in two weeks, much less two months. Postpone and give us a break.