How ya gonna pay for it?

How great is it meeting and talking with people. You have to open your ears and discover what they are enthusiastic about. I have heard many people communicate how they feel about something by the way they move their body. Someone may lean into you when the topic becomes interesting to him or move away from you when they feel uncomfortable when talking about the subject that is floated to the top of the conversation.

You might observe tension or relaxation as your exchange continues or someone may become more animated waving their arms; gesticulating as the exchange becomes more interesting.

It becomes obvious when the topic becomes unfamiliar or boring. That’s when it veers from the main road and continues to change lanes like Attention Deficit Disorder has infected the dialogue.

When politics or religion begin to creep into a stop-in-chat we are on dangerous ground. Our eyes begin to wander and we begin to search for an exit. “Well, how about those Redskins?”

If your conversation during a neighbor-bump in aisle seven at Kroger’s goes anywhere beyond “have you seen such-n-such,” nowadays it’s more likely than not to land on taxes. Not because April 15 is just around the corner, but because whichever paper you read, television news you watch or website you click on, Virginia’s pay-as-you-go or new or raised tax is the topic.

Depending on which day you’re paying attention, Interstate tolls, gas taxes, sales taxes, local restaurant taxes or the possibility of increased local real estate taxes are morphing, changing and adjusting.

The Virginia Chamber of Commerce says time is running out to fix transportation. The group contends that “One-third of all jobs in Virginia depend on an effective transportation network that efficiently moves people, goods, and services.  Virginia’s transportation system is essential to the economic prosperity and quality of life of all Virginians. As the Commonwealth’s transportation infrastructure needs continue to grow, Virginia’s ranking as a top state to live, work and raise a family continues to slide.”

But to take a step further, the question is “how are you gonna pay for it?” That’s where tolls and taxes come in. A toll on Interstate 95 at Jarratt will pay only about 20 percent of what Virginia needs for transportation.

Then there’s the proposed elimination of the gas tax in favor of a sales tax or even public-private partnerships, which would require toll booths up and down the interstates.

I’ve often heard the term pay-as-you-go uttered by conservative pundits, libertarians and Tea Partiers. That’s exactly what a gas tax is 17.5 cents per gallon and that money should go to roads if it doesn’t already. But you never know, it could be like the lottery profits that are supposed to go to schools. Ya think?

If we need money for transportation, take it from something that is transportation related. This is where the tea baggers, libertarians and I are on the same page.

Why allow the state’s 5 percent sales tax to climb to 5.8 percent, with the additional revenue earmarked for road projects across the state. Although I should mention that Chesterfield gets a 1 percent kickback on sales tax. There are more people than you might think who do not fill their tank with gasoline that would be punished for not doing so by higher sales taxes. Think of the most needy among us who do not drive, those in Virginia cities where public transportation is plentiful or those who have paid more (including sales tax) for their hybrid car so as to save gas or to respect the environment.

Taxes are about to be digging deeper under that roll of cash stuffed in your pocket. We’ve already seen a return to the old payroll tax and now, through the encouragement of State Senator John Watkins, we could see the county raise the tax on restaurant food and caterers by 4 percent.

Oh, it doesn’t stop there, if you get up and call in now, you can get an additional tax thrown in just for allowing you elected officials to lay one on you. Chesterfield has yet to set their real estate tax, but according to state statute it must go up by at least 2 percent, which would balance the reductions in real estate assessments. Don’t be too surprised if it doesn’t hit $1 per $100 assessment of your home. And, we have yet to see how high local government will raise fees or what services will be reduced.

Remember those are technically taxes, too.

Who got us to the point of all these tax increases? Oh, that’s right the same ones who reduced them not that long ago. Thanks y’all.

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