Fairfax County officials are disappointed that Tuesday’s last-minute “fiscal cliff” bill does not address a solution for sequestration cuts that threaten Northern Virginia’s economy.
Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova said she was grateful Congress took action and passed the bill, which keeps the Bush-era tax cuts for individuals making less than $400,000 and couples making less that $450,000. It also makes permanent the fixes for the Alternative Minimum Tax and delays government spending cuts for two months.
“Even though it’s not a comprehensive resolution to everything at least people are talking and at least things have gotten started,” she said. “But we’re disappointed that we still have waiting to do.”
Bulova worries delaying automatic sequestration cuts until March leaves the county in “limbo” and will harm the economy.
“Part of our frustration is that the business community is holding back on making investments or maybe filling vacant office space … because they’re not sure what’s going to happen with federal cuts,” she said. “It’s sort of like pulling the band-aid off slowly.”
County Executive Ed Long agreed mounting uncertainties could affect private sector growth.
“It’s going to keep businesses from readjusting and moving forward,” Long said.
Long noted the General Assembly’s 2013 session, which ends in February, would be over by the time sequestration is back on the table.
Working without knowing what the effects of the sequester cuts will be will only hamper the Assembly’s ability to act, Long said.
Long expressed doubts that Congress would be able to reach any sort of comprehensive package by the March deadline.
“It’s not like they haven’t been talking about this,” he said. “That’s what worries me … I just think it’s going to be much more difficult over these next two months than it has been over these last few months for them to reach some type of accord and I sort of find that frightening.”
In an email, Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jim Corcoran said the Northern Virginia business community understands the difficult issues that go along with getting national debt under control, but "when dealing with the federal budget, Washington needs to focus on making targeted cuts, and the defense budget should not carry a disproportionate share," he wrote.
He added the Chamber hoped Congress would "work quickly to get the nation’s financial house in order and make smart, necessary and targeted cuts to spending and avoid a thoughtless slash to defense spending through sequestration.”