Vote “No” on All Three Virginia Constitutional Amendments

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    I’ve been reading over the arguments for and against the three constitutional amendments on the ballot tomorrow, and I’ve decided that I will vote “no” on all three.  

    The first ballot question would amend  Section 6 of Article X of the Constitution of Virginia “to authorize legislation that will permit localities to establish their own income or financial worth limitations for purposes of granting property tax relief for homeowners not less than 65 years of age or permanently and totally disabled.”

    On this one, I agree with the Roanoke Times, which argues that the amendment’s flawed because it lacks “means testing.” In addition, this amendment “fall[s] into that deplorable class of legislation that serves the political needs of lawmakers in Richmond to the detriment of localities…support[ing] tax breaks for seniors and veterans without having to deal with the fallout:” a “sudden reduction in revenue” to localities,” the result of which likely will be “taxes must increase on everyone else.” Not smart at all.

    The second ballot question would amend the Constitution to ” require the General Assembly to provide a real property tax exemption for the principal residence of a veteran, or his or her surviving spouse, if the veteran has a 100 percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability.”

    I join the Roanoke Times in opposing this one as well, for many of the same reasons as the first one. I also agree with Waldo Jaquith, who writes, “I don’t think that the state has any business ordering localities to stop taxing some people…if the state wants to reduce taxes for veterans, they should reduce their own revenue, not localities’.

    Finally, the third ballot question would amend Section 8 of Article X of the Constitution of Virginia “to increase the permissible size of the Revenue Stabilization Fund (also known as the “rainy day fund”) from 10 percent to 15 percent of the Commonwealth’s average annual tax revenues derived from income and retail sales taxes for the preceding three fiscal years.”

    On this one, I again agree with Waldo Jaquith, who writes:

    …why not increase that cap so that, if it does look like it’ll be a good idea to save up more quickly, it’ll be possible to do that. On the other hand, why 15%? Why not 10%? Or 20%? Or 50%? Was there something wrong with 10%? I’d like to assume that there’s some logic behind these particular numbers, but much like “three-strikes” laws, I fear that there’s not.

    A poorly written, poorly reasoned amendment. I’m voting “no.”