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    EDITORIAL: Constitutional amendments: Two and a half thumbs-up

    There are three Constitutional amendments that will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot across Virginia.

    All three have passed the General Assembly by overwhelming, bipartisan majorities for two consecutive years. All three relate to tax and revenue issues before the state.

    They are:

    “Shall Section 6 of Article X of the Constitution of Virginia be amended 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 disabled?”

    “Shall the Constitution be amended to require the General Assembly to provide 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?”

    “Shall Section 8 of Article X of the constitution of Virginia be amended 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 tax revenues derived from income and retail sales taxes for the preceding three fiscal years?”

    On the first two, we stand in favor of adoption by voters. Anytime we can find a nexus between providing targeted tax relief that supports the most vulnerable in society, the elderly, the disabled, and infirm veterans, and giving back some local control to counties and municipalities when it makes sense to do so, you’ll find us in a position of advocacy.

    On the third and final ballot question, we equivocate a bit. While we see the great need for a state “rainy day” fund to help support vital services and programs in an economic downturn, we wonder if the ballot presents a solution in search of a problem.

    While plan sponsors say the fund cap needs to be raised from 10 percent to 15 percent by setting aside revenues, we question whether a state with 15 percent in excess revenues shouldn’t find a way to put some of those funds to use right now (transportation, anyone?), rather than overfill a “put it away for tomorrow” fund. Besides, our understanding is that even with the current fiscal doldrums, we haven’t yet depleted the current rainy day fund at the 10 percent cap.

    If our roads weren’t in such shocking shape, we might be convinced otherwise on this ballot question. For now, we see no reason to endorse it.

    Comments

    @jim

    Sorry you lost an arm, and thank you for your service.

    Let’s not make ad hominem attacks here.  I’m happy to sacrifice to pay more for services.  Laws about federal deductions (and state reductions) are laws, and can be repealed far easier than constitutional amendments.  Why would anyone collect less and save less?  Not smart - at any age.

    Sorry my fellow Virginians disagreed with me.


    If you read the bill, the exemption is for veterans primary residence only. Requiring the legislature to provide relief makes it much more difficult for those who might wish to deny veterans the exemption from doing so without some great difficulty.  One has to understand that a full 100% service connected disability is now extremely difficult to obtain. One arm starts at 10%!  Finally, I would hazard a guess, that despite his protestations on behalf of the commonwealth, codger still makes sure to claim all possible exemptions on income tax each year.


    I will vote “no” on a constitutional amendment REQUIRING special treatment for disabled veterans. Veterans are not more equal than others. Try reading books like “Animal Farm” that warn about making some more equal than others.


    I am both surprised and saddened that anyone would have a problem with the constitutional amendment concerning 100% disabled due to service veteran.  Veterans, 100% disability, due to service to this Country, deserve our help.


    I have reservations about Question #2.  Why does the constitutional amendment REQUIRE the General Assembly to pass tax relief for veterans, rather than merely PERMITTING the General Assembly to do so?  If you read the actual text of the amendment it uses the word “shall,” whereas the text of the amendment for Question #1 says “may.”  I have no problem giving the General Assembly power to legislate tax relief for veterans, but I have serious reservations about constitutionally requiring them to do so.


    Ok, there’s someone who didn’t read the article or the opinion….

    Anyway, my only reservation with the 2nd one is what is in the fine print?  I think we should support our disabled veterans rather than throwing them to the curb, but sometimes these things can have unintended consequences.  Can an already disabled veteran move into VA and take advantage of this new tax break, or is it only for existing VA residents who then become disabled in the line of duty?  I don’t want VA to become the holy land for disabled veterans.


    Are you kidding?  Force counties to collect less property tax money and not raise the rainy day fund is the height of fiscal irresponsibility.  So, can I have a reduced fee for this paper?  Oh, and can you not save more to make up for the lost revenue?

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