Monday, February 25, 2013

Rob Bell's Bad News

Delegate Rob Bell breaks bad news from the legislature:


As the General Assembly session ended last week, two major bills passed that I opposed and argued against.

The first, HB 2313, was the transportation package. It will increase a variety of taxes by more than $800 million a year. (See summary of new taxes here.)

I fought the transportation proposal. I voted against the bill when it was first presented and have opposed every version or amendment that would have raised taxes or costs on Virginia taxpayers.

Given the overall growth of the budget, I believe that it is wrong to pass even more costs onto Virginia taxpayers, and voted No. Unfortunately, it did pass.

The second, HB 1500, was the state budget.

I had various concerns with the proposed budget, but the most significant was the issue of Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. (The Obama administration offered $9 billion in exchange for a large expansion in Virginia; Virginia would have to start paying increased costs in 2017.) Even without expansion, state spending on Medicaid spending has grown explosively – 478% – over the last 20 years. Put differently, since 1985, spending on Medicaid has grown from approximately 5% to 25% of the state budget. Absent massive reforms, this growth is likely to continue.

Under HB 1500, the final decision on Medicaid reforms and whether to accept the Medicaid money will be made by a special commission. I did not believe this plan provided enough protections for Virginia taxpayers, and argued against it on the floor and voted No. (As Attorney General Cuccinelli noted and as I argued during floor debate, there are also Constitutional concerns with allowing such a decision to be made by a commission.)

Democrats believe this was a substantial victory; Senator Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax) cheered, “We have put Virginia on a clear path to expanding Medicaid.”

I am very disappointed in these two measures. I believe that Republicans are and should be the party of lower taxes and more limited government. I pledge that I will continue to fight for our conservative principles going forward.

Sincerely,

Rob Bell
Delegate, 58th District

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