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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.