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Cuccinelli asked if proposed fees would violate Virginia constitution

Rosalind Helderman

Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William)has written a letter to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, asking him to weigh in on whether it would be unconstitutional for the General Asssembly to embed fee increases into the budget this year.

The "one subject" rule has become a perennial point of contention in budgeting, as lawmakers argue over whether it is legitimate to assume revenues in the budget without separate legislation approving tax or fee increases.

Marshall notes that the House and Senate conferees have had some discussions about agreeing to raise $76 million in fees from car registration fees, recordation fees and fees to reinstate driver's licenses, including those fees in the budget bill rather than separate legislation.

"Since raising funds whether by taxes or fees is one purpose, and appropriating money is a separate and distinct purpose, would including a provision for raising $76 million in fees to be spent as part of the Appropriations bill, violate the one object rule of the Virginia Constitution if the Governor signed that bill into law?" Marshall wrote to Cuccinelli, in a letter dated Monday.

Noting the ongoing budget process, Marshall writes that an "expedited answer would be most appreciated and useful."

We have already seen Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling weigh in on the ongoing fee dispute. His letter came after several hundred people attended a rally organized by Americans for Prosperty in Capital Square urging the General Assembly to reject the Senate's fee proposals. Will the attorney general now weigh in from a legal perspective now as well?

By Rosalind Helderman  |  March 9, 2010; 3:02 PM ET
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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thanks, Delegate Marshall!

time to accept economic reality, Virginia. tax (fee) and spend has run its useful life.

Posted by: millionea7 | March 9, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Well, regardless of Marshall's legal inquiry, fees do hurt taxpayers more than genuine taxes. Virginians can deduct taxes paid to the Commonwealth on their federal income taxes. Deductions aren't allowed for fees.

Governor McDonnell could actually make fewer cuts to state services for the same net cost to taxpayers if he opted for taxes instead of fees.

It's really sad that his paralyzing fear over a single three letter word has driven him to lead efforts that ultimately leave Virginians poorer.

Posted by: ViennaBelle | March 10, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

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