Today, Ed Gillespie will join Senator Frank Wagner — the arch-critic of Gillespie’s tax plan — for a reception in Newport News.
Perhaps no one has done more in commonwealth of Virginia than Frank Wagner to expose just how terrible Ed Gillespie’s tax plan is. During the Republican primary, Wagner warned that Gillespie’s “pie-in-the-sky” tax cuts would “would put our AAA bond rating in jeopardy” and would “lead to massive increases” in property taxes. Wagner said the plan was based on “phony math,” and “Washington insider math” and called it “intellectually dishonest” for ignoring the fact that the state recently had to cut more than $1.2 billion from its budget.
At the heart of Gillespie’s tax plan pitch is not just phony math — but the false claim that his plan will create 50,000 jobs. That figure was criticized by Wagner — and others — who called it “pie-in-the-sky baloney.” Retired Republican State Senator John Watkins — who sat on the Finance Committee — was even more blunt, warning Republican voters that “we tend to be made a lot of promises from politicians” and that “we can't depend on the figures.”
All indications suggest that in recent weeks, Republicans are still deeply troubled by Gillespie's proposals — and hope they will never become law. Last month, Virginia columnist Jeff Schapiro wrote that, “Republican legislators publicly laud the scheme, but privately worry that it could inflict greater damage on Virginia’s budget than the last big Republican tax cut: a rollback in 1998 of a widely despised levy on cars that forced a $1.4bn tax increase when the state’s credit rating was threatened by a deficit four years later.”
FRANK WAGNER AND OTHERS ON GILLESPIE’S “PHONY MATH” TAX PLAN
Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Gillespie’s Plan Is Likely To Face Scrutiny From Skeptics Who Think The State Can’t Afford To Forgo New Tax Dollars.”“Coming at a time when Virginia has faced steep budget shortfalls that caused raises for state employees and teachers to be delayed, Gillespie’s plan is likely to face scrutiny from skeptics who think the state can’t afford to forgo new tax dollars. Legislation to cut tax rates was treated as a non-starter in Republican-controlled General Assembly committees this year due to the fiscal hit and a projected revenue shortfall of more than $1.2 billion.” [Richmond Times-Dispatch, 3/16/17]
Roanoke Times: “Wagner Said Gillespie’s Proposal Also Ignores ‘The True Financial Posture’ Of Virginia.” “Wagner said Gillespie’s proposal also ignores ‘the true financial posture’ of Virginia. He said it ignores that the state recently cut more than $1.2 billion from its budget, that Standard & Poor’s, while reaffirming Virginia’s AAA bond rating, has downgraded its outlook on the state’s economy from ‘stable’ to ‘negative,’ that the state has $17 billion in pension liabilities and that the state’s rainy day fund should be $2.4 billion but is currently less than $300 million.” [Roanoke Times, 5/2/17]
Republican Senator Frank Wagner, Who Sits On The Finance Committee, Said Ed Gillespie’s Plan “Would Put Our AAA Bond Rating In Jeopardy.” “Intelligent conservatives committed to good government and low taxes have thought about cutting the income tax for years. Unfortunately the income tax is a MAJOR source of income for the Commonwealth and it is a critical component of the revenue we need to balance the budget each year. Tinkering with the income tax has enormous long-term fiscal implications for a state with a AAA bond rating. Gillespie’s plan would put our AAA bond rating in jeopardy.” [Wagner For Governor, 3/16/17]
Wagner Said Gillespie’s Plan Would “Lead To Massive Increases” In Property Taxes, And He Called Gillespie’s Claim That It Would Create $50,000 Jobs “Pie-In-The-Sky Baloney.” “If implemented, Gillespie’s plan would also lead to massive increases in local property tax rates. His claim that his tax plan would create 50,000 new jobs is pie-in-the-sky boloney. […] Gillespie’s plan is also incredibly tone-deaf to the fact the General Assembly just closed a $1.2 BILLION revenue shortfall by cutting spending and delaying implementation of programs and other items that we eventually must pay for. We are constitutionally required to replenish Virginia’s Rainy Day Fund – that will be the first place most new revenue will have to go.” [Wagner For Governor, 3/16/17]
Wagner Said Gillespie’s Plan Was “Intellectually Dishonest.” “In a lengthy statement, state Sen. Frank Wagner, a longtime state lawmaker from Virginia Beach and key negotiator of the 2013 transportation revenue overhaul, called Gillespie’s proposal a ‘lazy political stunt’ and emblematic of a ‘D.C.-insider’ unfamiliar with state government. Wagner said conservatives have long wanted to cut the income tax, but have not because it’s a crucial revenue stream that keeps the budget balanced even during economic downturns. He said it was “intellectually dishonest” for Gillespie to base a plan on revenue projections that don’t take into account looming federal overhauls of health care and spending.” [Washington Post, 3/16/17]
Wagner Said Gillespie’s Plan Relied On “Dishonest, Phony Math,” And “Washington Insider Math.” “State Sen. Frank Wagner opened up with both barrels this week on fellow GOP gubernatorial hopeful Ed Gillespie's tax plan, saying Gillespie's pitch is based on ‘dishonest, phony math.’ Pressed to show its math, the Gillespie campaign pointed to a think tank in the Boston suburbs and a computer model using "thousands of equations solved simultaneously" to look into the future of Virginia's economy. It predicts a boost in household wealth and, thus, higher impact for Gillespie's promised income tax cut. ‘Quite frankly dishonest,’ Wagner said. ‘It's Washington math. Washington insider math.’” [Daily Press, 5/1/17]
Wagner Said Gillespie’s Plan Ignored “The True Financial Posture” Of Virginia. “Wagner said Gillespie’s proposal also ignores ‘the true financial posture’ of Virginia. He said it ignores that the state recently cut more than $1.2 billion from its budget, that Standard & Poor’s, while reaffirming Virginia’s AAA bond rating, has downgraded its outlook on the state’s economy from ‘stable’ to ‘negative,’ that the state has $17 billion in pension liabilities and that the state’s rainy day fund should be $2.4 billion but is currently less than $300 million.” [Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/1/17]
Former GOP State Senator John Watkins, Who Was On The Finance Committee, Said “There Are Too Many Unknowns With Regard To Making Promises Particularly Dealing With The Budget.” “Former-state senator John Watkins agreed with Wagner, and says tax reform at the federal level could also make cuts more difficult in the commonwealth. ‘There are too many unknowns with regard to making promises particularly dealing with the budget,’ he said.” [NBC 29, 5/1/17]
Watkins: “We Tend To Be Made A Lot Of Promises From Politicians… We Can't Depend On The Figures.” “Wagner defends his campaign's viability though, and he was joined in a Monday press conference by retired state Sen. John Watkins, who until recently sat on the budget-writing Senate Finance Committee where Wagner remains member. ‘We tend to be made a lot of promises from politicians,’ Watkins said. ‘We can't depend on the figures.’” [Daily Press, 5/1/17]