Ben Cline wants to revive Virginia economy with tax cuts

Friday's weak jobs report has one prominent Virginia lawmaker calling for a broad tax cut.

Delegate Ben Cline (R-Amherst) introduced legislation in the 2015 General Assembly session that would have used money raised from expiring tax credits to fund a reduction in the state's top income tax bracket. The legislation failed in committee, but Cline is aiming to revive the proposal in 2016.

The post-2007 economic stagnation has hit the Old Dominion hard. Virginia's GDP growth rate has been anemic for years and was 0.0 percent in 2014. 

"Tax cuts are important for economic growth," Cline told AMI Newswire, "especially given the most recent jobs numbers. We're slowing down, and Virginia needs to do whatever it can to show we're the place to be for business."

Cline said Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat from the party's Bill Clinton-era pro-business faction, has been lukewarm to changes in Virginia's tax system.

"There's no appetite for a big tax cut from the governor,"  Cline said. 

McAuliffe's communications director Brian Coy told AMI Newswire the governor's office is still formulating its budget strategy and has not yet addressed any specific tax proposals.

"We're in the very early stages of budget development [and it's] too early to comment on specific proposals like that," Coy said. 

Cline won a special election in his Allegheny-foothills district in 2002. He has polled above 60 percent in subsequent elections and ran unopposed in his last two races. He is optimistic he can craft a bipartisan approach to tax cuts.

"I have hopes of finding someone who can join with me on some sort of tax bill," Cline said. "But no takers so far."

"My goal," he said, "is to have Virginia's tax rates as low, flat and fair as possible."