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Can Virginian legislators on both sides of the aisle come together?

When it comes to issues like tax policies and prison reform, liberal and conservative groups might find some surprising allies, Del. Jim LeMunyon (R-Dist. 67), of Oak Hill, told a group of social justice advocates Saturday.

About a dozen candidates for state delegate seats in Fairfax County — largely Democrats — attended the candidate forum hosted by Social Action Linking Together (SALT) to answer questions about everything from taxes to immigration.

LeMunyon, the only Republican candidate to make remarks during the forum, tried to emphasize points where he thought both sides had some common interest.

For example, in response to a question on prison reform, LeMunyon said fiscal conservatives are interested in lowering the costs associated with running state prisons.

On the other side of the spectrum, Democrat Jerry Foltz, who is running in the 40th District seat in Centreville, said he shares the concern of SALT and the other groups sponsoring the event about prison sentences that are “way out of whack.”

The issue of taxes on corportations generated more discussion from candidates at the event.

Del. Mark Keam (D-Dist. 35), of Vienna, said the issues are complex.

“This is one of those issues that takes a lot of time and energy,” he said, but he hopes that the General Assembly can work with the governor over the next four years to review and overhaul the state’s tax policies.

LeMunyon said he has not been able to identify the loopholes and exemptions in Virginia tax code that people often reference. However, when it comes to reforming the state’s tax laws, “You might find some unexpected allies in the business community,” he said.

LeMunyon’s opponent, Democrat Hung Nguyen, said he believes some business incentives can be positive, but they should be reviewed regularly.

“I think we should have some incentives to bring in certain industries that are struggling in certain parts of the Commonwealth … but it shouldn’t continue year after year after year,” Nguyen said.

When it comes to recruiting and retaining businesses, gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli (R) favors lowering the state’s corporate income tax rate.

“We could always keep cutting the tax rate,” said candidate Marcus Simon, a Democrat running in the 53rd District in Merrifield, but he doesn’t believe that is the right approach. “Let’s use [quality of life] as our focus for recruiting businesses and not just a race to the bottom.”

kschumitz@fairfaxtimes.com