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Virginia General Assembly
Tax Reform...Measure Twice 5.17.12
Tax Reform Debate
Must Start with Defining Needs
Every carpenter knows the value of "measuring twice and cutting once" to ensure that the job gets done right the first time.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is pondering reforming Virginia's tax code that dates back a half century or so.
The Governor is right. It is time for reform. It's also time to do it right.
The first tax reform "measurement" requires assessing long term needs.
In the case of transportation, putting highway maintenance back on a secure footing requires a funding stream capable of generating an additional $600 million per year; a 20-25-year highway and transit capital improvement program at least twice that amount.
The second "measurement" is the extent to which revenues projected from proposed reforms actually address measured needs.
After more than 20 years of failure to provide serious new long-term funding to address seriously growing transportation needs, the "better than nothing" standard must be a non-starter.
Diverting a small percentage of General Fund dollars to transportation won't cause the sky to fall or public education to collapse. It also won't fix Virginia's transportation funding crisis.
•Naming rights, ABC store sales, off-shore royalties may be legitimate sources, but also fail the "sufficiency test."
•Gas tax indexing may prevent the maintenance deficit from getting larger, but it doesn't reduce it.
•Public-private partnerships and tolling proposals at best address 10%- 20% of the Commonwealth's highway and transit capital needs.
Last year more than 25 Northern Virginia organizations acknowledged that while all of the above sources are legitimate parts of the solution, individually and collectively they fall far short of what's needed and Virginia's transportation funding challenge cannot be met without some new dedicated taxes and fees.
Again, by first defining core needs, lawmakers can judge the extent to which proposed tax reforms meet those needs and whether (as some suggest) "revenue neutrality" is sufficient or whether it's time to ask Virginians to actually pay to maintain the transportation system their tax dollars have built and build the transportation network their children need.

In short any tax reform process needs to --
 Measure Twice (Needs/Revenue Adequacy)
Before Cutting a Deal
Measure Twice (Needs/Revenue Adequacy)
Before Cutting a Deal