Marinm was kind enough to send me this notice from Senator Mark Obenshain (has to be from Staunton).  We all need to give these items some thought.  I never understand amendments when I go in to the polls and get blindsided by them:

From Senator Obenshain:

Many voters will be surprised to see three Virginia Constitutional Amendments on the ballot when they vote in three weeks (or earlier if voting by absentee ballot). I write this to provide a quick overview of the three constitutional ballot questions you will see when you vote.

All three amendments address taxation and revenue issues, and all three have passed the General Assembly two consecutive years (with nearly unanimous votes), as is required by the Constitution of Virginia, and they now go before the voters for final approval.

The first ballot question reads as follows: “Shall Section 6 of Article X of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to authorize legislation that will permit localities to establish their own income or financial worth limitations for purposes of granting property tax relief for homeowners not less than 65 years of age or permanently disabled?”

Currently, localities are only authorized to make exemptions for those who bear an “extraordinary tax burden,” or with the express approval of the General Assembly, which occasionally passes legislation authorizing specific localities to afford local property tax relief to senior citizens or the disabled. This amendment, if approved, would allow local governments to make the decision on their own, without going to the General Assembly for approval.

The second ballot question asks: “Shall the Constitution be amended to require the General Assembly to provide real property tax exemption for the principal residence of a veteran, or his or her surviving spouse, if the veteran has a 100 percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability?”

If approved, this amendment would require a statewide exemption from local property taxes for the primary residence of any 100% disabled veteran, provided that the veteran’s disability is service-related. A surviving spouse could continue to claim the exemption so long as the same home remains his or her primary residence, and s/he does not remarry.

Finally, the third ballot question says: “Shall Section 8 of Article X of the constitution of Virginia be amended to increase the permissible size of the Revenue Stabilization Fund (also known as the “rainy day fund” from 10 percent to 15 percent of the Commonwealth’s average tax revenues derived from income and retail sales taxes for the preceding three fiscal years?”

In other words, should we expand the allowable size of Virginia’s “rainy day fund,” to which state government contributes in good years to provide resources for lean years? Currently, the maximum size of the Fund – which is almost empty at present – is 10% of the Commonwealth’s average annual tax revenues from income and sales taxes for the preceding three fiscal years; this amendment would up the maximum allowable amount to 15%.

17 Thoughts to “3 Constitutional Amendments on the Ballot Nov. 2”

  1. George S. Harris

    I sure wish some folks with a political bent would comment on these amendments. On the surface they sound good, but the devil may well be in the details. As to number 3, I suppose this could be beneficial as long as they don’t raid other pots of money in increase the fund. I don’t know about anyone else, but as I drive around, it seems to me the roads are getting worse by the day. If we have a harsh winter and lots of plowing and salt sprinkling take place, we may join places like Maine who have some of the worst roads in the country. And the governor’s idea of selling of the state liquor stores for the necessary funding for roads won’t near foot the bill.

  2. Slowpoke Rodriguez

    Ooof, got some reading to do on these three! Sad thing in, only about 75 or so folks are going to bother studying these amendments. The first two look like “no” at first glance. At least have something in the amendment to force cuts elsewhere in the budget to cover these exemptions/breaks. The third one? No idea. And that being said, those first two are only gut reactions, and it’ll take more analysis. You know what’s going to happen, though in the voting booth: “Yes,Yes,Yes” Done!

  3. marinm

    So far this is the best write-up I’ve seen on these…

  4. Marin, thanks for sending me that detailed analysis.

    Slow makes a good point about people reading the amendments. If I don’t know they are on the ballot and get blind-sided, I tend to do what he said….but I have gotten so I skip them if I don’t know. I have made a few strategic mistakes in the past.

    I would so far vote YES YES and abstain on the last. I need to discuss it.

    YES on the first. It allows localities to make their own decisions about giving tax exemptions to seniors.

    Yes non the 2nd…..allows property tax exemptions for disabled vets.

    Not sure on that last one. Marin, what do you think?

  5. marinm

    The lack of information from anyone on how the revenues will be generated for #3 scares me. Does it mean taxes will need to be increased to get that 50% extra cushion? Does it mean service cuts? Where would taxes be increased or services cut? How did they get to the 15% figure? Everyone thinks that saving money for a rainy day is a good thing but keep in mind that the govt having a rainy day fund means that they’ve over taxed the population……

    My current thoughts are No, No, No.

    While I appreciate the sacrifice of our veterans – especially one that is 100% disabled – not clearly stating how the revenue shortfall would be generated is scary. Do we cut school programs? Do we raise general taxes (on a county basis) for everyone else? Cut social services? Raise vehicle property taxes? With no description we’re left with the idea that the county govt will make up the short fall….where counties are already dealing with shortfalls.

    The lack of information and the vagueness of these amendments is very telling in my eyes.

  6. Slowpoke Rodriguez

    Is it bad that I look at these ballot questions, and my first thought is: OK, what are you guys up to here?

  7. marinm

    I call that a well adjusted voter.

  8. Only if you are paranoid. :mrgreen:

  9. George S. Harris

    I fyou haven’t done anything wrong , you have nothing to hide. As you well know,the government already knows more about you than most folks imagine.

  10. George S. Harris

    At the Tea Party Convention in Richmond, they have proposed to amendments to the Virginia constitution to do away with corporate income tax and personal income tax; HOWEVER, it doesn’t appear they have offered anything to fill in the HUGE revenue shortfall created by this dumbass idea.

  11. George S. Harris

    Change #3 worries me the most since this could be a sizeable amount of $$ and nothing is specified as to where the bucks are coming from. I am not as paranoid as many on here are about taxes since I believe if you are going to demand services, yu shuld expec to pay for them. Is the “rainy day fund” to be held in an interest bearing account? And, if so, where does the interest go? Since we are required to have a balanced budget, I am not so certain that a “rany day” fund is overtaxing the public. I would like some idea about how many $$ will be lost as the result of #1 and #2. I don’t suspect we have many 100% disabled veterans so I am less worried about #2. As our population gets longer inthe tooth and shorter in the purse, this could be a problem somewhere down the line. My vote at the moment would be NO, YES, NO.

    Has anyone written to their delegate or senator to ask about the fiscal impact of these? Since Mr. Lingamfelter and I don’t speak, I may write to Senator Colgan to see what he has to say.

  12. Right now I think we have to go into hardship to get a tax break for #1. I think a yes here simply extends more authority to local jurisdictions. Am I correct or have I misread it?

    I always will cut disabled vets a break for #2. # 3, I would probably say yes just because I was already in the habit of yes…which is the danger there.

  13. Slowpoke Rodriguez

    George S. Harris :
    At the Tea Party Convention in Richmond, they have proposed to amendments to the Virginia constitution to do away with corporate income tax and personal income tax; HOWEVER, it doesn’t appear they have offered anything to fill in the HUGE revenue shortfall created by this dumbass idea.

    Having no personal income tax…..what a dumbass idea. All those people who live in Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming…..they’re all such dumbasses!

  14. As a partially disabled vet, I appreciate the idea behind the tax cut. However, if we do pass that I want it amended so that the tax break also goes to first responders of all types that are 100% disabled through service to the public.

    However, I think that it should be determined by the localities.

  15. Hogan

    Amendment 2, the Veterans Tax Amendment, covers a limited number of Veterans. There are only about 7500 veterans that are rated 100% disabled, permanent and total and service connected. That is a hard rating to obtain in the VA disability system. Also, of that 7500, only an estimated 4000 own homes in the Commonwealth. Veterans who have served and died for us certainly deserve this very small break.

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