Sayre takes no-tax pledge

Story by Chris Graham

It should be no surprise that Scott Sayre has made formal his pledge against raising taxes.

Sayre, a Buena Vista businessman who is challenging incumbent Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Mount Solon, for the Republican Party nomination in the 24th Senate District, made it official on Tuesday – announcing that he has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge of the Northern Virginia-based Americans for Tax Reform.

“This ‘ledge is just one more demonstration of my desire to hold the line on taxes, stop out-of-control spending, and, instead of constantly raising state taxes, to provide common-sense solutions to our real needs,” Sayre said in a statement.

“Taxes are a necessary part of funding for the core services we desire from our government, including public safety. Elected officials, however, owe it to their constituents to treat our money with respect, practice fiscal constraint and stand accountable for wasteful spending. I can more than deliver the services and programs we need within the budget dollars we currently have,” Sayre said.

Sayre had already indicated that he was going to sign the pledge last month at a news conference in Staunton in which the Virginia Conservative Action PAC announced that it was endorsing Sayre in the 24th District GOP primary on the schedule for June.

VCAP executive director Robin DeJarnette said at the news conference that the PAC would make sure that Sayre stuck to the pledge if elected.

“There has to be real leadership – and I think there needs to be change to find that leadership, to find constraint on spending. We can no longer continue to increase the baseline budget in the Commonwealth,” DeJarnette said then.

“It is time the 24th District had a senator who ardently defends all their interests, including their pocketbooks,” DeJarnette said.

Hanger has had a bullseye painted on his back by antitax conservatives dating back to his vote on the 2004 budget reform initiated by former Democratic governor Mark Warner that resulted in an annual tax increase of more than a billion dollars. Hanger was instrumental in laying the groundwork for the reform with his work on a panel studying ways to reform the state tax system that the senator has said should have been done in such a way as to be effectively revenue-neutral.

“When you’re fiscally responsible and fiscally conservative, you have to look at both sides of the ledger. What this is, it’s really an attack on government, when you get right down to it,” Hanger said in an interview for a story on the upcoming party primary in the April edition of the New Dominion print magazine – which will be on newsstands next week.

“The interpretation of those that are getting their marching orders from some of these national groups – Americans for Tax Reform and about a half a dozen others – it’s a very narrow focus, and in my opinion, it’s fiscally irresponsible,” Hanger said.

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