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The Buck Passes to Local Government

by: Elaine in Roanoke

Sun Mar 07, 2010 at 12:15:10 PM EST

We all know that Bob McDonnell and his fellow Republicans have painted themselves into a "no new taxes" corner in order to satisfy their base. Now, others will have to suffer for that.

There is one week to go before the end of the General Assembly session, but no budget agreement appears on the horizon. Even so, one thing is sure about this budget. It will put pressure on local government officials to either raise revenue - increase property taxes - or be the face of the cuts in services that will be deeply felt in Virginia's cities, towns, and counties.

We can look at public education as an example of how the state passes the fiscal buck for their own demands on localities. The state, even in these bad times, requires schools to maintain 21-to-1 student-teacher ratios, provide free textbooks and transportation and offer programs for at-risk students and free and reduced-price breakfasts in any school where at least one-fourth of students qualify for them.

The federal No Child Left Behind law mandates frequent testing, which carries a high price tag while delivering dubious data. It also mandates a certain level of improvement per year in educational outcomes and remedial instruction for those who fail to meet the minimum standards.

I haven't even scratched the surface of the mandates for education.

So, what does Bob McDonnell have to say about the state passing mandates on to the localities without sufficient state revenue to fund them? "They'll be innovative, they'll be creative, and they'll find a way to manage better," he said.

No, they won't. Virginia's localities can't be "innovative;" they can't "manage" better. McDonnell and the rest of the "don't tax me" crowd have identified the problem facing us right now the wrong way.

Elaine in Roanoke :: The Buck Passes to Local Government
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 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

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No they aren't
"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."

They just are now institutions not for Virginians - but for the highest out of state bidder.

The one thing I thougt all the Republican delgates ran on this year was to do something about the up side down weight to out of state students.  Was there a bill introduced by any of them?

Albo, Hugo, Comstock?  

They've been forced to admit more...
Out-of-State students.  Our state colleges and universities are drastically underfunded by the Commonwealth.  UVA's percentage of state funding is less than 8% - and yet their pecentage of in-state students is over 69%.  Its those out-of-state students that are paying the bills at our state institutions, paying over 63% over tuition dollars.

[ Parent ]
The money
is going to be in even shorter supply, once VA loses the super-duper rating it had earned during Warner and Kaine. Our municipal bonds have been competitive with the best funds, but I can't help but wonder how long that's gonna last, if every locality gets "inventive" (so that McD doesn't have to) and starts slashing its services out of necessity. I don't have any children or grandchildren in the school system (my son and all the stepchildren having moved out to other states), so am not up to date on that. But the town (Lexington) has cut its trash collection by half (once a week instead of twice) and the latest two snow removal efforts had been "sub-par". The cuts so far had been tolerable but there's not much "fat" left to trim.

There is very little fat in Virginia
We've been hurting economically for years mostly due to the transportation budget exponentially growing. The recession put us over the top which ushered in a fool. I don't see how we can cut anything without hurting from it. So, we cut services to those who don't vote: kids. Honestly, this is a disaster and Virginia will lose its bond rating. We'll suffer for the insanity of the state government and only by providence will we see a resurgence of the party that at least kept us in the black.

[ Parent ]
"Fat" is in the mind of the viewer
To a true believer, which the Republican Party by definition is, very nearly all government expenditures are "fat." Like the Communists, they believe in the withering away of the state, until only military defense and some (but not all) foreign relations are the province of government. All else is dealt with by market forces, i.e., privatization.

This attitude is not surprising: the original neocon-ultra conservatives who hijacked the old Republican Party after World War II-Korea were themselves originally "parlor pinks," i.e., upper-and upper-middle class sympathizers with Lenin and the Communist Revolution----

When they converted themselves into similarly dogmatic Free Marketeers they brought with them most of the tactics and a surprising amount of the word magic manipulation, bald-face lies, and sloganeering of their Communist origins (including absolute party discipline, character assassination, phony fronts to garner public support from deluded reformists, and so on).

[ Parent ]
sums it up- the mindset of no tax increases morons:

While no one is happy about the pain of budget cuts, some conservative groups are pleased that the state is cutting deep into spending rather than raising taxes.
Ben Marchi, the state director of Americans for Prosperity, said Virginia's government has grown by thousands of jobs while the economic downturn has taken its toll on private sector jobs.
"We think it's only fair that government shares in the hard times," he said.
Virginia's health care agencies, Marchi said, have increased spending by huge amounts in recent years.
"Somewhere there is a spending problem," he said. "You can cut state spending by a lot. The trains will still run on time."

This from our local paper. Many many local human services will be hard hit here in C'Ville. Free Clinic, seniors, Region Ten, schools. The list goes on and on. I don't know what the solution is, but surely it can't be this.

Hypocrites All
The so-called "free marketeers" and the so-called "social conservatives," plus what passes today for a "conservative" political viewpoint, all are hypocrites. That fellow from the misnamed "Americans for Prosperity" was actually saying that he wants the people he  believes should form our permanent underclass to suffer more. He is lying, by the way. For the past two years, government employment in Virginia has declined.

If that guy from AFP thinks throwing people - taxpaying people who work for a living and don't get capital gains and dividend tax breaks - will improve the economy for him and his ilk, he is a bigger fool that he appears to be on the surface.

These greedy guys resent the meager "safety net" that the government has created since the Great Depression. To translate Marchi's words correctly, he actually was saying,  "My social class of people are simply better than the rest of you. So, you deserve to suffer. I have a high-paying job working for this conservative anti-tax group, and I don't care about your fate."

They don't find anything wrong with garnering governmental welfare for themselves and their cronies, whether in the form of tax breaks or outright government transfer of wealth to them.

Plus, they have the political influence to buy what they want. The "least among us" have no power. It was well put in the comments that the people most hurt are the ones who cannot vote: the children of this Commonwealth.

have to admit, I am having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that these guys are so greedy, so cruel, so, well hateful that they are "pleased" to see spending cut and kids, seniors, mentally ill, suffer.

I mean, how does a person get to be this way?

I also love it how this reporter-ie stenographer-did not question any of the AFP guy's statements. VA has lost hundreds of jobs, not added more. Been cutting spending for years.

oh wait-the Daily Regress is owned by a rethug Media General.

[ Parent ]
Greed Is Easy To Justify
A refusal to admit that those to whom much is given can give more to others in a time of crisis is easy to justify. I, too, don't believe that these folks are greedy and cruel enough to be "happy" about cuts to the social safety net. They just justify not giving a da**.

All a person has to do is convince oneself that the poor, the sick, the weak are responsible for their own situation and that you will just make them even weaker if you help them out.

Add to that a belief that "government is not the solution but the problem" and that all taxes are wasted - except the ones spent on programs that those people need and want - and there you are:

Conclusion by them: We need to cut back and, as McDonnell said, "be innovative," "be creative."  

[ Parent ]
it's official. THIS STATE SUCKS.

Webb and Warner are, uh, DEMOCRATS?

oh please.

U dnt get't
The deficit and the deficit and the deficit. The big issue next election is The DEFICIT.

Of all the issues test-driven by Republicans since Obama's election, this one rang more gongs among Republican focus groopies. The health care issue of course came in second, but that may well not have enough legs, whereas our poor offspring and their offspring and their offspring will be paying down our deficits forevermore. They even have Peterson's well-funded think tank and their own move, "I.O.U.S.A" making a bus tour back and forth across the U.S.A. This meshes nicely with the pure Free Market theory (no government regulations, no bailouts, no taxes, no Big Government programs, including health care, which only add to the DEFICIT)

[ Parent ]
right. But we can spend zillions on wars? For which I am sure Webb and Warner voted FOR?

PLEASE. But we can't pay for jobs and kids?

Come ON. What hypocrits that we keep electing.

[ Parent ]
Wars properly conducted can provide enormous profits for the global corps. It is the responsibility of us wage peons to produce the cannon fodder to fight the wars, which fodder joins the military because they can find no other employment that provides three squares a day; or, because the fodder still believes the patriotism hype which confuses corporation profits with patriotism.

[ Parent ]
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