4  state legislators ask state officials to stop lying to public about upcoming sales tax referendum

Tell truth & let public decide, they urge Governor


The following joint statement was issued today by Delegates Bob Marshall, Scott Lingamfelter and Jay O'Brien and by newly elected Senator Ken Cuccinelli, challenging Governor Mark Warner and other proponents of the sales tax to speak truthfully. 

If some of the statements made by supporters of the tax were made by a company to its shareholders, they would be sanctioned by the SEC or maybe be charged criminally and jailed

"If some of the statements made by sales tax proponents to persuade voters to support the tax increase had been made by a company to its stockholders, to potential investors, or the Securities & Exchange Commission, sanctions would be in order," the legislators said.   

The Governor's Secretary of Transportation offered public assurances months ago that the Administration would level with voters about the referendum, but the campaign to date has been characterized by misleading statements and refusals to disclose vital information. 

"We call on the Governor to give the voters of Northern Virginia the information they need to make an intelligent decision on the sales tax referendum."

List of misleading statements

The accompanying document lists several of the misleading statements at issue, followed by comments from the four legislators. 

Misleading Statement 1
Congestion will be relieved if voters are willing to pay an average $.25 per family per day in sales taxes.

Comment:  Assuming their plan will actually relieve congestion, proponents can't possibly know what it will cost taxpayers because the real cost of the listed projects won't be known until after the election.  What we know is that the stated figures are only a fraction of the total project cost and that the listed projects are only a portion of the projects required to relieve congestion.

Misleading Statement 2
The planned taxes and bonds won't affect state or local credit ratings or debt capacity.

Comment:  Local debt capacity depends on local citizens' income which will be reduced by the referendum tax, and won't be available to bond schools, parks, and recreation centers for teens and seniors.    Virginia Treasurer Jody Wagner was told by her own expert, the Public Resources Advisory Group, that three rating agencies would view any NVTA bonds as debt of the participating localities.

Misleading Statement 3
 The Governor and other referendum proponents are confident the legislation is constitutional.

Comment:  Companies like Virginia's WorldCom, and Enron are in serious trouble because they didn't acknowledge the concerns about the legality of some of their activities.  If the Governor is certain of the constitutionality of the legislation, he owes it to the voters to release the legal opinions that led him to that conclusion.  If he were the CEO of  General Motors of Procter & Gamble, he would have to address these kinds of legal questions.

Misleading Statement 4
Each local government can veto any project that is planned within its borders.

Comment:  The recent NVTA resolution purporting to authorize a single jurisdiction veto provides no analysis or legal support for this measure, and appears to be in conflict with the wording of its authorizing legislation, and the referendum statute.

Misleading Statement 5
The Projects listed in the legislation are the projects that will be constructed.

Comment:  If the legislation formally commits the NVTA to build the listed projects, it is in conflict with federal requirements that mandate review of environmental impacts and alternatives to the projects.  Administration officials have said informally that the projects may be abandoned or modified as a consequence of these review. Furthermore, the sales tax referenda legislation and the separate legislation creating the NVTA appear to allow the NVTA to alter the list.  Voter deserve an answer before they cast their ballots on the November 5th referendum.

Misleading Statement 6
The priorities recently agreed to by the NVTA board are set in concrete.

Comment:  A politically inspired temporary "arrangement" was hastily put together immediately after an anti-referendum state senate candidate IN Fairfax convincingly beat a candidate supported by sprawl promoting developers and Governor Warner. This vote can be reversed at any time. This arrangement purports to divide monies raised by the referendum according to the populations and sales tax collections of each jurisdiction.   However, this is in direct conflict with the referendum legislation. 

Misleading Statement 7
The half-cent sales tax is critical to funding the Dulles rail project.

Comment:  Delegate Ken Plum, who chairs the Dulles Corridor Rail Association, has acknowledged that the proposed tax increase is not needed for this project because landowners along the corridor have been slated to finance that project through special taxes.

Misleading Statement 8
NVTA has now guaranteed that the tax revenues generated by the half-cent sales tax will be shared proportionally by the member localities.

Comment: Any rule adopted by the NVTA board is subject to repeal or modification after the election.

Misleading Statement 9
NVTA has also guaranteed that any single jurisdiction can veto a project it opposes if it is to be built in that jurisdiction.

Comment:  Not only can any single member jurisdiction "veto" power, if it exists, be repealed by the General Assembly or NVTA, but it also was never intended by the General Assembly.