JLARC produced a report a few months back that looked at tax credits and special breaks in Virginia’s tax code and attempted to evaluate their effectiveness. The finding that such tax credits equal 90% of the amount of taxes raised each year in Virginia has begun to spur legislators to remedial action, none of which look like they will succeed.
According to the Virginian-Pilot, Del. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) saw his bill, designed to shine some sunlight on exactly who gets tax breaks worth more than $1,000, shot down in committee even though two tea party advocates spoke in favor of it.
Dave Toscano (D-Charlottesville) had a sensible suggestion. JLARC found that one of the most egregious do-nothing tax breaks was intended to spur coal companies to increase employment, but at the same time jobs have continued to decline drastically in coal country. The credits cost the state $31 million in lost revenue in 2008. Toscano’s bill to end that credit was killed on a unanimous vote after coal company lobbyists spoke against it.
That wasn’t the only action on the coal corporate shakedown of the tax code, though. The coal tax break was scheduled to end in 2015. Quinn Israel (R-Bristol) tried to get approval to make the coal tax break perpetual. The committee wouldn’t go that far, but it did something almost as bad. It decided to extend the coal tax credit until 2020.
Sadly, that’s how the present system in Richmond works. Those who can afford armies of lobbyists and fat campaign contributions pretty much get exactly what they want, whether it makes fiscal sense or not. The rest of us? We aren’t represented in the General Assembly as it now is operating. Governance for the good of the Commonwealth is a joke, and the joke is on us.