Virginia Beach (January 13, 2013) - - A week ago, State Sen. Jeff McWaters told a less than receptive highly conservative, Constitutional loving meeting of citizens, that he has a plan to use a ‘regional’ sales tax plan to raise road funds. Force the citizens to TAX THEMSELVES!

But, he said, it wouldn’t be him: It would be the people. His plan would require voters to approve a referendum taxing, in effect agreeing to tax themselves, and absolving the politicians of any blame or consequences.

McWater was guest speaker at a dinner meeting of the Hampton Roads Tea Party, the Virginia Beach Tea Party, the Chesapeake Taxpayer Alliance, Virginia Beach Taxpayer Alliance, the First Landing 9-12 Group, and the Tidewater Libertarian Party.

He couched his plan in terms of traffic necessity making it imperative to raise funds for improvement of roads.

A show of hands of the standing room only group, was overwhelmingly negative - about 99% against.

Robert Dean, chairman of the TLP, said, “I think the senator walked way with an almost unanimous desire that he withdraw his bill.

“He said in fact, he may pull the bill. I don’t think he was expecting such a well-informed group who shared their opinions and lack of trust of government,” Dean said.

Returning to Richmond after the meeting that night, McWaters jumped on Gov. McDonnell’s bandwagon the next day for a plan to eliminate the gasoline tax and institute a statewide sales tax . Nothing was said in Richmond about withdrawal of the bill, although McWaters told the group: “I represent the state…” and immediately corrected himself to say, “but I represent the wishes of my district first.”

Members of the group said that should such a plan be approved, what would guarantee the funds would be used for nothing but road improvements? They didn’t want a transportation fund to finance light rail follies, rail stations, or any type of mass transit shenanigans - nothing but roads.

McWaters said his bill could be modified to address those concerns (which it doesn’t presently do and McWaters is a supporter of light rail expansion). “I will go back and look at that,” he said.

It was pointed out that in the 1980s a 1-¢ sales tax to finance transportation needs was passed. Almost immediately it was raided by the legislators to finance welfare queens and other non-transportation related causes. What will prevent that in the future, McWaters was asked, since neither his nor other bills could give such a guarantee?

Legislators said that wouldn’t happen in the 80s tax increase “and with all due respect, Senator, your lips are moving now, how can we expect you prevent that in the future?” he was asked.

McWaters admitted the raid had robbed the transportation fund, but, he said, “it was later paid back with interest.” What he didn’t explain was how inflation had continued to rob the fund between the time the monies were taken out and when re-paid to the point the fund was practically valueless.

He had no answers and agreed there was nothing in the law to bind the rest of the General Assembly to protect the funds again. In other words, it sounded just like another political gimmick to flim flam the public into voting itself a tax increase, letting politicians say they didn’t do it, and then blow the bucks anyway the General Assembly wants.