Opinion — Tax cuts vs tax cuts

Published 11:18 am Saturday, April 16, 2022

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There is a real dilemma in Virginia politics currently. Last November, one of the issues that Glenn Youngkin ran on was cutting taxes. As I wrote last week, the Senate Democrats are determined to prevent him from getting wins. That is particularly true with the issue of tax cuts. The dilemma for the Democrats is, how do they look like they are supporting the desires of the citizens of Virginia while opposing the majority of the voters who voted for Youngkin.

During the campaign last fall, Glenn Youngkin proposed removing all of the sales tax on groceries. Then Governor Northam saw how popular this was, so he proposed removing part of that tax. Youngkin proposed removing the income tax on some military retirees to entice them to become permanent Virginia residents rather than taking their skills and work ethics to other states that don’t tax their retirement. The Democrats insisted on only offering that benefit to the lowest paid retirees of the military.

These, in addition to adjusting the standard deduction you can deduct from your income, would increase the disposable income your family has. The Democrats responded with a lesser deduction and to make it temporary. They hope that you will not notice that Virginia’s treasury is brimming with extra cash receipts from higher personal income tax and larger sales tax receipts derived from inflated prices you are paying for everything. This is much of the 3 billion dollar budget hang-up we are facing in Richmond.

If that is not “me too” enough, recently Governor Youngkin proposed that, because of the high prices at the gas pumps, we could suspend the gas tax for three months to help folks. This would particularly have a positive effect in our region and other parts of rural Virginia that must drive longer distances to get to work. The Democrats counter proposed just writing checks to families. Fifty dollars or one hundred dollars if more than one driver. That figure might represent the tax you would pay to fill up as few as 10 times. That might sound reasonable to those who don’t drive far to work and to the store. In our area, many drive 30 to 50 miles one way to work.

Law Enforcement Deaths

Some of the numbers are out for 2021. The number of law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty last year broke records. All-cause mortality jumped an astonishing 55% over 2020. This makes it the worst year ever to be a police officer. The three biggest vectors for the statistics were Covid, traffic accidents and firearm deaths. Firearm deaths jumped 38% from the previous year. A third of those deaths were attributed to ambush attacks, which were almost unheard of in the previous decade. Covid deaths were a significant factor. Understand, while many worked from home and some businesses were shut down, our officers were still on the job dealing with folks before they could know they might be infected.

Morale among officers is at an all-time low. With some cities defunding the police and others, like Richmond, looking to divert tax dollars away from enforcement to “oversite” boards to second guess the decisions that must be made in split seconds that might be the difference between life and death. There should be no doubt why officers are leaving the profession in droves. While complete data on all crime is still being compiled, we do know that, for the first nine months of 2021, assaults against officers are also up, with over 60,000 being reported to the FBI.

As bad as 2021 was for law enforcement, the early months of 2022 look as bad or worse in Virginia. In Covington, one officer was shot. At Bridgewater College in Rockingham County, two campus officers were shot. In Henrico last week, an officer was killed in a car wreck. A dangerous career is becoming more deadly. Meanwhile, officers are deciding to leave or retire as the gloom of lawlessness grows. In Norfolk and Chesapeake, police chiefs have announced they are retiring.

The president can deny that law enforcement is being defunded, but that is not true. Cities and states have done exactly that. For us to maintain departments with experienced officers, we must do more to show our respect.

Frank Ruff Jr. represents Lunenburg in the state Senate. His email address is Sen.Ruff@verizon.net.