House of Delegates candidates were asked the following questions by The Washington Post:
Spending: Governor Robb has announced a 5 percent across-the-board cut in state spending. Do you think that is needed and fair? If not, where would you cut state spending?
Taxes: Virginia generally is regarded as a low-to-moderate tax state. Are you happy with the way taxes are levied in the state? What changes would you favor in state and local taxes?
Legislation: Local governments must secure state legislation for most of their functions. What specific legislation would you introduce for your area? James H. Dillard II (R), (Incumbent), 48, of 4709 Briar Patch Ln., Fairfax, is a five-term delegate who has chaired the state Water Study Commission and served on the county task force on drug abuse. A former social studies teacher, he is the ranking Republican on the House Education Committee.
Spending: Governor Robb has not made an across-the-board cut in state spending. Many areas have been excluded, including: aid to local governments, elementary and secondary education; Medicaid, which is already being reduced $123 million; aid to dependent children; non-general funds and capital outlay projects. What the governor has asked is that the general administration agencies each cut back 5 percent. The cuts are absolutely essential and fair. As a result of economies, there are at this time $40.6 million in unappropriated funds which will be allocated by the General Assembly. This $40 million represents .6 percent of this fiscal year's $7 billion budget. There is already a list of programs for which the state has legal obligations, but has not fully funded. High on the list is state aid to local jails which will be my first priority. There will be a reassessment of Virginia's economic position in September, but it is generally felt that the 5 percent cut will have to stay in effect.
Taxes: Virginia is a low-tax state and I have every intention of keeping it that way! I have not voted for nor has the General Assembly passed a general tax increase since 1972 when corporate income tax was raised from 5 percent to 6 percent and the top bracket of personal income tax was raised from 5 percent to 5.75 percent. This increase simply maintained current revenues after the state conformed to the federal tax form in 1971. I do not expect any major tax changes. However, the revenue picture is not bright. Even though Governor Robb is continuing the state hiring freeze inititated by Governor Dalton and is imposing a 5 percent budget cutback, an expansion in personal income and an increase in retail sales will be needed in order to fund next year's budget. Because of the slowdown in the economy, it is highly questionable that these increases will be realized. Thus a revenue shortfall will be created which will require the General Assembly to make further cuts in programs. Therefore, although I support the removal of the tax on food, it would be irresponsible to promise its removal which would cost Virginia and local governments over $235 million in the next fiscal year alone and over a four-year projection -- $1.1 billion. While I sponsored and voted for a tax-indexing bill in the 1980-81 session, realistically this concept must be delayed. Over a two-year period it would cost the state $266 million. By continuing the cutbacks and hiring freeze now in effect, Virginia can continue its policy of no major tax increases.
Legislation: Of the many areas of my concern, two of which I am particularly interested are establishing a small claims court and closing the loopholes in Virginia's drug paraphernalia law. I am convinced there is an acute need for a small claims court in Fairfax to settle claims of $500 or less. Citizens frequently have legitimate grievances and while these claims may be small in monetary amounts they merit action on principle. I propose simplified and low-cost filing, a hearing within 30 days and relaxed rules of evidence. A citizen should be able to present his story in his own words and have the case decided on merit, not legal technicalities. When Virginia passed its drug paraphernalia law we were advised that if we made it any tighter the whole law would have been ruled unconstitutional. Subsequently tighter laws have been upheld in the courts. As a continuation of my fight against drug abuse, I will introduce or support legislation to put a stop to drug paraphernalia in Fairfax County. Gordon S. Jones (R), 40, of 6803 Trefor Ct., Springfield, is a writer, editor and lobbyist for energy and environmental affairs and pro-family groups. He has been an analyst for the Senate Republican Policy Committee, federal agencies and members of Congress. He is active in local politics, youth clubs, PTA and civic groups.
Spending: At a time when the federal burden of taxation is finally being lightened, it would be a mistake to increase state taxes. Governor Robb is talking about such an increase for Virginia. Across-the-board spending cuts are easier to achieve than deeper cuts in specific areas, and I do not think a 5 percent cut will bankrupt any existing program.
Taxes: It is Virginia's moderate tax burden that attracts business and permanent residents, who keep the economy growing and vibrant. That burden cannot be allowed to grow heavier. Property tax assessments should not be arbitrary, but should be tied to an objective measure of property values. Last year, Fairfax County assessments went up over 10 percent while property values increased only 3 percent. That is intolerable. If elected officials think additional revenue is needed, they should raise it honestly, not through the backdoor method of inflated assessments. Also, the Housing Authority narrows the property tax base by removing land from the tax rolls for public housing, a wasteful method of providing housing assistance. Taxpayers should approve such removals.
Legislation: I would introduce a bill to permit the voters to decide if they wish to keep the Housing Authority they created 15 years ago, and which now floats bonds without their approval and threatens to become a regional monster accountable to no one. It is the lack of accountability which leads to overdevelopment, putting such pressure on roads and other services. I would introduce legislation permitting Fairfax County voters to elect their school board. I would propose legislation allowing the voters to decide if they wish to shorten the term of the local supervisors. More accountability is needed, and it is not clear that supervisors' terms should be longer than congressmen and state delegates.