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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Chip Faulkner's after-action report:
The Joint Committee on Revenue

Chip Faulkner's CLT Commentary

Again this past Tuesday I was back before the Joint Committee on Revenue, as I was on June 6th.  My purpose last month was to oppose a bill that would freeze the income tax rate at 5.1%.  This week’s hearing, in B-2 at the State House, had four bills listed on the agenda to reduce the income tax rate to 5%.

This being July an experienced State House watcher would hardly expect all 17 members of the Revenue Committee to be at the hearing, although I suspect all 17 were at the State House in January to vote on their obscene pay hike.  Only four committee members were present, despite the huge bump in pay for its chairmen, assistant chairmen, etc.  At least one was a taxpayer-friendly legislator, Rep. Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk) who received a 93% in the most recent CLT rating.

I pointed out to those of the committee in attendance that it has now been 28 years since the income tax rate was hiked “temporarily.”  I handed out the collage of press reports produced by CLT that promised at that time the tax increase would be only “temporary.”  Frustrated by the delay in the return to 5%, CLT put the question on the ballot in 2000.  The voters, by an almost 60-40 margin, dropped it back to 5% by 2003.  The Legislature then defied the voters and “froze” the tax rate at 5.3%, replaced the voters’ will with its own convoluted formula to let it glacially fall back down in the eons to follow.  These facts were casually reiterated by me with no signs of discomfort from committee members.

I closed my testimony to those in attendance with this poignant passage that Chip Ford had remembered about Barbara and passed on to me to include:

Some ten years ago long before she knew she had leukemia Barbara Anderson said she wondered if she’d live long enough to see the “temporary” tax hike ever restored to its historic 5 percent, despite “The Promise” and despite the 2000 rollback ballot question’s success.

She didn’t, and a lot of others haven’t either.

It’s been 28 years since that tax was hiked “temporarily,” a generation.  How many more must die before the “temporary” tax hike is finally rolled back to five percent?

After my testimony, there were no questions from the Committee.  I said, “No questions?  I guess this means you agree with me.”  The response was more silence.

Chip Faulkner
Communications Director





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