In a move to perhaps stab back at some of the business organizations that have supported higher taxes (including the Chamber of Commerce), the Virginia House of Delegates introduced House Bill 1488 on Friday. The measure would end dozens of corporate and industrial tax exemptions that have been added to the state tax code in recent years. Preliminary estimates indicate that removing these tax exemptions would generate $500 million a year in additional revenue for state government.
Whether the House proposal is intended as a serious alternative to Governor Warner's tax package remains to be seen. However, the legislation sent an immediate chill through the business community. Business lobbyists warned that the measure would frighten employers out of Virginia and that customers would ultimately pay the taxes in the form of higher prices. While that is unquestionably true, it is ironic that these organizations do not seem to appreciate the fact that higher taxes on Virginia's families could have the same adverse economic impacts.
Ultimately the answers to two questions will determine how the rest of the legislative session plays out: Do the delegates really think they need MORE taxpayer dollars? Or are they simply putting a bill in play that will be targeted at many of the business interests that have been calling for higher taxes?