Virginia Republicans passed a tax relief bill in the House of Delegates Monday, the latest major development in a year already full of fierce debate in the legislature and massive scandal for the three statewide elected leaders.
Republican Del. Nick Freitas talked about all of these major issues with us. Freitas is cheering the legislation passed Monday that is aimed at making sure some Virginia families do not actually pay more in taxes as a result of the 2017 federal tax reform. That law limits the deductions for state and local taxes on federal returns, leaving some in the commonwealth with a higher net tax burden.
Republicans have been pushing the tax relief plan for weeks but until this week Gov. Ralph Northam insisted on collecting the additional revenues and using it to pay for budget priorities and redirect it to low-income Virginians.
Late last week, Northam – who is desperately clinging to his job in the wake of the blackface yearbook scandal – relented and agreed in principle to the GOP tax demands.
“The governor does not need to add one more scandal to the pile of scandals he has mounting up on his desk right now,” said Freitas, who says Republicans had no intention of allowing Northam’s redistribution plan to go forward.
“He was going to take money from the people that paid the taxes and give it to other people. We just outright rejected that,” said Freitas.
Many Virginia Democrats accused Republicans of racial insensitivity by focusing on wealthier Virginians keep more of their money rather than move it to poorer families.
Freitas is having none of that, especially this week.
“They know that none of this is based off of racism. The only people right now having a problem with racism in the Commonwealth of Virginia are the governor and the attorney general,” said Freitas, referring to Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring, who last week admitted to his own experience with blackface while in college.
Freitas says some very basic principles are at work in the tax debate.
“If you pay taxes, we want you to get a tax cut, but if you haven’t paid taxes, well then you can’t get a tax cut,” said Freitas.
“[Democrats] want to increase government spending. They want to increase wealth redistribution. They want to use the tax code to punish success, because the more money they have in order to distribute to voters, the better it is for them politically.
“As we’ve seen in every area where they’ve tried this – whether it’s globally, in the United States, or in the Commonwealth of Virginia – it never seems to work out for the people who they claim they want to help but it always seems to work out for the politicians that get to hand it out,” said Freitas.
While the tax relief for 2018 and 2019 appears on track to become law, several ambitious bills sponsored by Virginia Democrats were narrowly derailed by the Republican majority in the House of Delegates and the Virginia Senate.
Democrats pushed more than a dozen gun control bills, a plan to repeal Virginia’s right to work laws, a push for a $15 per hour minimum wage and legislation to roll back abortion restrictions and allow the termination of pregnancies even in the moments just before birth.
Northam was feeling the heat on abortion in the days leading up to the yearbook scandal.
“The way Gov. Northam described it, the child could actually be born and, in his words, the child would be kept comfortable while a conversation ensued. A conversation about what, governor? At that point, we’re talking about a child that has been born,” said Freitas.
Republicans hold a narrow 51-49 majority in the House of Delegates and a 21-19 edge in the Virginia Senate. Freitas says if Democrats win control of both chambers, Virginians will be in for a very rude surprise.
“I don’t want to throw all Democrats into this category, because I don’t think that’s appropriate, but the new left that has taken over and become the thought leader of the Democratic Party? They’re terrifying,” said Freitas. “You have not seen the extent of the crazy that they will be able to bring to Richmond if they take control of the House of Delegates and the Senate next year.”
As for the scandals, enveloping Northam and Herring, Freitas is stunned that neither of them knew better than to wear blackface in the 1980’s and that Herring would call on Northam to resign while knowing he had done the same thing.
When it comes to the sexual assault allegations against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, Freitas says the accusations from the two accusers rings true for him, but he says that’s not reason enough to deny Fairfax his chance to defend himself.
“I find it very convincing. I find it very believable. But one of the things that I acknowledge is my beliefs in something is not sufficient evidence to convict someone. We have due process of law in this country for a reason.
“And let’s face it, this would not be the first time a group of powerful white people decided to deny due process to a black man because they found him inconvenient,” said Freitas.
Listen to the full podcast to learn why Republicans needed 80 of 100 votes in the House of Delegates to pass the tax bill and to hear more of Freitas on abortion and the scandals swirling around Richmond.