There are three constitutional amendments on the ballot on Tuesday that are worth bringing up here, if only as a form of education (for all of us). Here are some quick notes on each of them.
The first is a bit of Dillon Rule busywork:
Shall Section 6 of Article X of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to authorize legislation that will permit localities to establish their own income or financial worth limitations for purposes of granting property tax relief for homeowners not less than 65 years of age or permanently and totally disabled?
Give permission to localities to provide exemptions to their own taxation structure? Duh. Yes.
The second is a widows-and-orphans unfunded mandate:
Shall the Constitution be amended to require the General Assembly to provide a real property tax exemption for the principal residence of a veteran, or his or her surviving spouse, if the veteran has a 100 percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability?
I don’t think that the state has any business ordering localities to stop taxing some people. Should localities offer such a tax break to veterans? Sure, it strikes me as a good idea. But if the state wants to reduce taxes for veterans, they should reduce their own revenue, not localities’.
The third could increase the state’s rainy day fund:
Shall Section 8 of Article X of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to increase the permissible size of the Revenue Stabilization Fund (also known as the “rainy day fund”) from 10 percent to 15 percent of the Commonwealth’s average annual tax revenues derived from income and retail sales taxes for the preceding three fiscal years?
Note that this doesn’t actually increase the rainy day fund—it just allows more money to be socked away there if the state deems it necessary. I find it much harder to know how to vote on this one. On the one hand, sure, why not increase that cap so that, if it does look like it’ll be a good idea to save up more quickly, it’ll be possible to do that. On the other hand, why 15%? Why not 10%? Or 20%? Or 50%? Was there something wrong with 10%? I’d like to assume that there’s some logic behind these particular numbers, but much like “three-strikes” laws, I fear that there’s not.