Thursday, January 7, 2010

When ‘No Tax’ pledges come home to roost

In 2005 Bob McDonnell won an attorney generals race that went to a recount.

By the time the 2010 session of the General Assembly is over, he might want a recount of the 2009 governor’s race that he won in a landslide.

Because Virginia’s new governor faces a no win situation.

McDonnell campaigned on a pledge not to raise taxes. And he’ll honor that promise. He comes form the branch of the Republican Party that believe any tax, at any time, is evil. He’s a believer in the Gospel according to Ronald Reagan. (St. Ronnie, like my Dad, was apparently from the old “Do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do school. Both as governor of California and as president, he raised taxes when he thought it was appropriate.)

So there won’t be any new revenue to plug the $3 billion hole in the state’s next budget.

And, the commission that monitors the state’s debt just informed the governor and the General Assembly that they can’t borrow any more money, either.

Actually, McDonnell and the legislature could raise the state’s debt ceiling. But that’s not exactly a conservative way to begin one’s administration. And it could put the state’s AAA bond rating at risk. McDonnell certainly doesn’t want to be the governor who lost Virginia’s AAA rating, which it has held for more than 70 years.

If you can’t raise taxes and you can’t borrow money, the only thing left is to cut the budget.

Theoretically, that’s not a bad position for a Republican governor to be in. After all, the Republicans are supposedly the party of small government. They could see this as an opportunity to scale back state government.

Except they’ve been beaten to it. Liberal Democratic Gov.

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