Wary of long term consequences

Published 11:37 am Monday, December 31, 2018

Every year governors are eager to roll out their proposed spending priorities ahead of the General Assembly session. While my colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee are eager to work with the governor on areas of agreement, I am wary of the long-term and recurring nature of the commitments he is proposing.

All told, the governor has proposed over $1.6 billion in long-term, recurring spending — including millions in spending after his term is over. In fact, the governor is proposing more new spending in the second year of the budget than was included in the entire two-year budget originally passed this year.

Just six months ago, the rating agencies applauded our fiscally-responsible approach to budgeting. We must continue to prioritize fiscal steps that shore up our bond rating while focusing on one-time spending and capital projects.

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Unfortunately, it appears much of the proposed spending is predicated on allowing over 600,000 middle-class taxpayers to pay higher taxes. Before we can contemplate new spending, the General Assembly will have to resolve the governor’s willingness to allow by inaction a tax increase and the elimination of key deductions on mortgage interest and property taxes.

Speaker Kirk Cox last week asked the Supreme Court of the United States to stay the development of a remedial redistricting map by the Eastern District Court.

The Eastern District Court denied the House request for a stay recently and released a proposal with 36 potential combinations for a legislative map, despite the fact that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the House appeal and the case is set for briefing and oral argument in early 2019.

Now that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case on the merits, the continued development and implementation of a remedial redistricting map only serves to cause confusion for candidates, election officials and voters.

We are fortunate that the Supreme Court has agreed to take this case and are confident they will not let the judicial overreach of the lower court stand.

Last week, House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert filed legislation aimed at expediting the process in which official correspondence of the Governor must be made available to the public.

Currently state law does not provide a time frame in which this correspondence must be released, but House Bill 1702 would require all records be made available to the public one year after delivery to the Library of Virginia.

House Bill 1702, if passed and signed by the governor, will require all correspondence from the Kaine, McDonnell, and McAuliffe administration to be made available online immediately.

The budget passed earlier this year included $600,000 for the library to upgrade the technology that make digital catalogs available to the public.

We owe it to taxpayers to operate a government as transparent as possible.

Last year, House Republicans pushed for all committee meetings to be live streamed and required recorded votes in subcommittees; we are preparing for all subcommittees to be live streamed once we move into the new General Assembly Building. This bill goes one step further to ensuring a fair and open government.

The 2019 Pre-Session Survey for the 59th District is now available to my constituents at: http://survey.house. virginia.gov/Survey.aspx?s=1cec5d9093c04d2a92876aeb85305bbe.

If you would like a paper copy mailed to you, call my office and we will send one to you.

DEL. C. MATTHEW FARRIS represents Buckingham in the Virginia House of Delegates. His email address is DelMFariss@house.virginia.gov.