Sunday, November 25, 2018

Weekly Column: Federal Tax Reform to Force Action at 2019 General Assembly Session

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, The Prince William Times, The Fort Hunt Herald, and Potomac Local in the week of November 26, 2018.

Federal Tax Reform to Force Action at 2019 General Assembly Session
At a recent Senate Finance Committee retreat, state legislators had a preview of economic and revenue projections and other significant issues expected to be debated in the 2019 General Assembly session.
A vice-president of Moody’s Analytics said that Virginia’s economy continues to perform well due to increased federal spending coupled with federal tax cuts.  However, he likened the performance to a sugar high and said that indicators are starting to point toward a recession in the next two years because of increased interest rates and increased import/export tariffs.  He cautioned that rising lending could exacerbate a recession.  He also noted that Virginia’s budget was well positioned for a recession because we have bolstered our Rainy Day Fund.
Next, we examined the state budget.  Nearly 70 percent of Virginia’s general fund revenue comes from income taxes.   Traditionally, Virginia has been a “conforming” state, meaning that the Virginia’s definition of adjusted gross income is identical to the federal definition and taxpayers and accountants do not have to use two different sets of rules to figure out taxes.  However, the tax bill passed by Congress in early 2018 significantly rewrote what constitutes income and limited deductions.  Most significantly, Congress and President Trump limited the deductibility of real estate taxes and state and local income taxes to a total of $10,000 (aka “SALT”).

Monday, November 12, 2018

Weekly Column: We Deserve Answers

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, Springfield Connection, and Potomac Local in the week of November 12, 2018.
We Need Answers

On November 17, 2017,  coming home from work around 10:00 p.m., I saw police lights at the end of Alexandria Avenue where it intersects with Fort Hunt Road in the Mount Vernon area near my home.  I assumed there was an accident. 
The next morning, I learned that an accountant from McLean, Bijan Ghaisar, had been shot by two U.S. Park Police officers after he drove away after being rear-ended by an Uber driver on the George Washington Memorial Parkway near Slater’s Lane.  Very little about the Park Police’s official story made sense to me the next morning.   
About two weeks later, I sent a letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) asking a series of questions.  I received a cursory response.  
About two months after the incident, the Fairfax County Police Department (FCPD) released a dash cam video of the incident starting near Dyke Overlook on the George Washington Memorial Parkway.  The video showed Ghaisar driving down the Parkway slightly over the speed limit trailed by two U.S. Park Police cruisers.  Anyone who drives the Parkway knows that without adequate shoulders there are few places to pull over. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

November 8 Vigil for Bijan Ghaisar

Last Thursday night, I helped organize a vigil for Bijan Ghaisar at the corner of Fort Hunt Road and Alexandria Avenue where he was shot four times in the head, unarmed after he was the victim in a traffic accident - two blocks from my house.

I have sent two letters to the Federal Bureau of Investigation seeking answers and have merely been told "we are working on it."

The Federal Government's failure to promptly issue a report and make a decision in this case is outrageous.

Thank you to the 100 citizens including many Mount Vernon residents who came out to remember Bijan and tell the government that his family and our community deserve answers.

Here is the news coverage in case you missed it.
WJLA Channel 7 - Rep. Don Beyer says FBI investigation into Bijan Ghaisar shooting wrapped up weeks ago (Nov. 8, 2018)   

WTOP - Vigil marks nearly 1 year after Virginia man fatally shot by Park Police

Channel 9 Coverage - Peggy Fox

Channel 4 Coverage - Jackie Bensen