|We aren't suffering from a recession and declining state revenues because of waste and mismanagement in local government. We have a toxic economic environment caused, for the most part, by the unfettered "free market" that McDonnell and the Republican Party worship.
Let's look at the results of their blind insistence that "waste" by government is the place where solutions to insufficient funds for the services government provides can be found.
Martinsville, which already has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state, is looking at cutting 10 percent of its school employees. These people are not "waste." Their jobs are not "waste."
According to the Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk is expecting to cut 410 education jobs, including 135 teachers, closing a school for teen mothers, ending all field trips, and making school employees pay a portion of their health insurance, effectively cutting their pay 12.5%. Asking the public servants who teach our children to take a pay cut after a couple of years of getting no raises is not "innovative."
In Gloucester, the options include a four-day school week, a price tag for participation in athletics and closing one of two middle schools. Parents have said a tax increase is preferable to those cuts, but the governor that the county helped elect says otherwise.
Montgomery and Roanoke counties are looking at 20 percent cuts to most departments of county government.
Cumberland County, which just five years ago dealt with failing schools and worked hard to get all its schools to meet state standards, expects now to return its education budget to 2005 funding levels - or enact a tax increase of more than 40 percent, in addition to a 12 percent hike in real estate assessments.
I haven't even touched upon institutions of higher education in Virginia, which have endured years of cuts and neglect that threaten the quality of their programs.
There are two ways to accomplish the Republican agenda of refusing to tax at a level to cover the services the state mandates:
It can eliminate the mandates, most of which were put into place to improve services to the state's population...or...it can refuse to fund its own mandates and force local governments to raise taxes. Put in different words, Virginia can allow itself to become a place with a less-educated populace, fewer cultural attractions, a lousy transportation system, etc., or it can become like New Jersey and California, where property taxes reached a level where people rebelled against them.
Neither of those situations can help the self-described "Jobs Governor" attract business to the Commonwealth. I'm afraid we will all have to endure in varying degrees the result of this economic disaster brought on by the greed of the people who enriched themselves at the expense of the rest of us. As usually happens, those most hurt will be the most vulnerable in our society.
In a country well governed poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed wealth is something to be ashamed of. -Confucius