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? Robert E. Harris (R), (Incumbent), 46, of 4440 Glenn Rose St., Fairfax, a division director at Rockwell International Corp., has been a delegate since 1974. He is a member of the Appropriations Committee and transportation subcommittees. He also represents the House on the Metropolitan Council of Governments board.
Spending: As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I am concerned over "selected" 5 percent cuts on Northern Virgina. The 5 percent reduction does not presently apply to aid to localities, roads, Medicaid or construction projects. It applies to state agency administrative accounts and state institutions. Most state agencies were manned at about 97 percent of appropriated funding levels at the start of the new state fiscal year on July 1. Thus, the reductions of 5 percent are against the increased funding over last year and appears to be reasonable at this point in time, except with regard to Northern Virginia Community College and George Mason University. The cuts by Gov. Robb on increases in state funding were the result of an anticipated $60 million revenue shortfall in this year's approximately $7 billion state budget. Gov. Robb is expected to report to the House Appropriations Committee in late September on Virginia's revised forecast.
Taxes: As a delegate for the last nine years, I have voted on many legislative initiatives dealing with taxation. The specific net reductions in tax burden to Virgina's general population in the last nine years is approximately $284 million per year as a result of General Assembly actions. I have voted to remove the sales tax on food in 1981 and also voted against a down-state legislative initiative to redistribute Northern Virgina income through higher state income taxes on Northern Virginians. This was the proposal to eliminate deductions for interest on home loans from the state in come tax and raise the tax rates on income brackets. In 1978, I cast the deciding vote on the House floor against raising the sales tax by 25 percent which included the tax on food. I have repeatedly voted against increases in the gas tax and strongly oppose a Northern Virgina payroll tax or local income tax. I support indexing of state income taxes.
Legislation: Changing the funding allocation for roads to more accurately reflect critical needs in growth areas like Northern Virgina is my first legislative priority. Although Fairfax County will receive an increase of $15 million above present funding allocations in the next two years for roads, still more funding is needed. Prince William County is receiving over a $10 million increase above current funding in the next two years. Remember, maintenance on current roads consumes a sizeable amount of state funding since many roads carry over 50,000 vehicles per day. Second, indexing of the state income tax is needed for Northern Virginians because with 25 percent of the state population, we contribute 33 percent of all revenue to the state from income tax and 38 percent from bracket creep. I will reintroduce the bill that I sponsored in 1981. Third, in my position on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, I will continue to support Northern Virginia's critical needs. Robert L. Thoburn (R), 53, of Compton Road, Clifton, is owner and administrator of the Fairfax Christian School. He was a member of the House of Delegates in 1978-80. A graduate of Muskingum College, he also has post-graduate degrees from Westminster Theological Seminary.
Spending: The need for cuts in state spending will depend on the state of the economy. Hopefully it will improve in the coming months. There are times when governments have to trim spending just as families have to adjust their budgets to changing conditions. If Virginia needs to make cuts, I favor cutting the least critical areas rather than cutting essential services.
Taxes: Taxes are an increasing burden to Virginians, especially homeowners. I oppose state-mandated programs that localities are forced to finance, largely through increased property taxes. I oppose the sales tax on food and prescription drugs. I favor giving Virginians the right of initiative and referendum so the people have more say in government, including more control over taxes.
Legislation: I will work with local elected officials to obtain enabling legislation from the state so that local problems can be solved in Northern Virginia whenever possible. Legislation is needed to deal with the problems of growth and development. Legislation is also needed to cope with the increasing traffic on our congested roads. I will work to get a district highway office in Northern Virginia in order to serve this area more effectively.