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Fairfax County to General Assembly: Fully Fund Education, Transportation

by Karen Goff — November 30, 2015 at 2:45 pm 24 Comments

Fairfax County/Credit: Fairfax CountyEducation, transportation, support from the state to local municipalities and support for local government.

Those are the four main priorities Fairfax County plans to stress to the Virginia General Assembly as the General Assembly prepares for its 2016 legislative session in January.

The county’s Legislative Committee has held four meetings, and the Board of Supervisors plan to adopt the 2016 legislative program and meet with the Fairfax County General Assembly delegation on Dec. 8.

In a draft of the program, the county urges the commonwealth to step up — or witness a decline in services and economic competitiveness in Fairfax.

“Fairfax County and the Commonwealth have long maintained a strong partnership in promoting economic development,” reads the draft. “The County has created a strong business climate, with a fair and competitive tax structure, excellent schools, an educated workforce, and services and amenities that attract new businesses every
year.”

“Unfortunately, it has been the practice of the Commonwealth to significantly underfund core services, leaving localities to fill funding gaps with local revenues in order to maintain essential services. This poses a particular threat to economic development efforts, as state funding cuts in recent years, coupled with the impact the recession has had on local revenues, threaten to destroy the very attributes that draw and retain businesses.”

Some highlights of the county’s requests:

Fully meet K-12 funding:

At present, the state is failing to provide the funding necessary to
implement its own standards and requirements, while Fairfax County and other Northern Virginia localities more than meet their responsibilities for K-12 education through large contributions to the state General Fund, strong local effort, and the effect of high local composite indices. Conversely, state funding for K-12 has declined
significantly in recent years – in FY 2009, K-12 funding comprised over 35 percent of the state General Fund, but by FY 2014, investments in K-12 education had fallen to less than 30 percent of the General Fund.

Continue and build upon the successful enactment of significant, new
transportation revenues by the 2013 General Assembly:

It is critical that Northern Virginia continue to receive its fair share of statewide revenues, as required by HB 2313, particularly in light of the new HB 2 process for prioritizing projects. If any changes to the HB 2313 revenues are considered, alternative revenues must generate funds at least equal to those previously approved.

Rebalance commonwealth resources and responsibilities so that the funding partnership with localities is restored, ensuring the delivery of critically needed services in communities throughout Virginia:

The depth and breadth of state cuts to localities in recent years has severely stressed the state-local funding partnership. State aid to localities decreased by approximately $1 billion since FY 2009, including a five-year period in which the Commonwealth required localities to return funds to the state in order to help balance the state’s budget – essentially creating a new reverse concept of “local aid to the Commonwealth,” which translated into more than $20 million in state funding cuts to Fairfax County

The Supervisors are also asking that action be taken on sufficient state funding for services to disabled individuals leaving the Northern Virginia Training Center; and expansion of Medicaid and restoration of funding for human services programs, which serve the most vulnerable Virginians.

Modernize the local tax structure, which has become outdated and over-reliant on property taxes:

Local government revenues must be diversified, including the provision of equal taxing authority for counties and cities, without state mandated restrictions on use, or caps on capacity. Where possible, the state should consider updating state and local taxes to reflect changes in the economy or technology; avoid any expansion of revenue-sharing mechanisms controlled by the state; avoid any new state mandates while fully funding and/or reducing current requirements; avoid any diminution of current local taxing authority (including BPOL and machinery and tools taxes) and lessen restrictions currently imposed on local revenues.

To see the entire draft document, including requests on smaller items such as license plates, concealed carry or firearms, pedestrian safety and more specific transportation priorities, visit the Fairfax County website.

  • Mike M

    Perhaps the County should have a chat with Ken Plum and the other local state reps. After all, it is their failure that allows the good ole boys from down south to benefit from NoVa revenue while returning little. It’s sad but the local population keeps sending Ken back no matter how ineffective he may be. It’s simply because they will only vote Democrat. I’ve said it before, sending Ken Plum to Richmond is like sending a poodle to a pit bull party.

    • Greg

      Cut the fat and eliminate the redundancy and fluff.

    • Ming the Merciless

      It is simply democracy (small d) in action!

      The downstate folks use their political power to milk other people… which is not at all different from the Fairfax County teachers using their political power to milk other people… which is not at all different from “the poor” exchanging their votes for gimmedats obtained by milking productive citizens.

      I dare say that if, through some miracle, we elected a Republican to replace Ken, then that Republican wouldn’t do much better than Ken. The basic problem – that the less-wealthy majority can vote themselves largesse at the expense of the more-wealthy minority – would remain.

      We’re not going to stop voting to steal other people’s money until (a) we stop voting, or (b) we run out of other people’s money.

  • Richard

    Republicans in Richmond pretend to keep taxes low while actually just shifting the tax burden to local government. As the Fairfax Co BOS stated, fully-funding schools is critical to job growth and quality of life in the county. However, the BOS needs to step up and fully-fund FCPS. Find the money! Richmond won’t respond to these demands. The BOS may not use the Republicans in Richmond as a scapegoat if they come up short again in one of the wealthiest counties in the country.

    • Ming the Merciless

      If it is critically important to Fairfax County… then Fairfax County should pay for it. Why should Bristol or Roanoke care about the quality of Fairfax County’s workforce, or pay anything to improve it?

      • Richard

        Keep up, Ming. That’s what I said.

        The argument our Board of Supervisors may make, however, is that we’re just asking for our own money back so it’s not being used to subsidize other school districts as generously. That’s not an argument for inaction, though. Our supervisors still need to come up with the money whether the state provides additional funds or not.

        • Broke

          Replace politicians in Richmond and BOS!

        • Ming the Merciless

          No, they don’t “need” to come up with the money. What they need to do is start reducing the rate of increase in salary, benefits, and pensions to FCPS employees.

          Not to mention, FCPS is already getting the vast majority of the money they asked for — right now they are whining and threatening us over a trivial fraction of their total wish list.

          • Richard

            FCPS has been cutting forever. Contrary to popular belief, the bloated administration in FCPS is long gone. Any cuts now are to core programs and required staffing. Wages were stagnant for years until a tiny raise recently, causing FCPS to become much less competitive for recruiting and keeping quality teachers.

            Why aren’t we hearing about the same level of cuts from other county programs to properly fund the schools if they don’t want to raise new revenue?

          • Ming the Merciless

            Wages were stagnant for years until a tiny raise recently, causing FCPS
            to become much less competitive for recruiting and keeping quality
            teachers.

            Not so. FCPS salary and benefits per employee grew 9% faster than inflation from 2005 to 2014. That is certainly much more competitive than private industry in the county. It certainly increased faster than real estate tax revenues increased, and more to the point, it is a rate of increase in expenditure that is unsustainable.

            Salary and benefits for all county employees, not just teachers, has risen faster than inflation. You cannot possibly raise enough revenue for that to continue. Especially if a significant fraction of the increase in the county’s population is not, shall we say, increasing the tax base in proportion to the burdens it imposes.

      • Chuck Morningwood

        Actually, those places have a vested interest in the quality of the workforce in Fairfax County. We are the “Golden Goose” of the Commonwealth. We get back dimes on tax dollars. The difference between the money we send to Richmond and the money we get back from Richmond goes to fund shortfall in these other counties.

        Since these other counties depend on us to pay for their services, they should want us to keep those high-paying jobs which aren’t available in their counties. In order to keep those jobs, we need a well-educated populace.

        • Ming the Merciless

          If you think downstate should fund education in Fairfax, then you are running in circles. Downstate needs to send tax dollars to Fairfax so that Fairfax can send tax dollars downstate? Does that really make sense to you? What if downstate just kept their tax dollars so that we could send them less?

          I guess your idea might work if every downstate dollar sent to Fairfax to educate kids somehow created more than a dollar in revenue, but I am skeptical that is the case or that you could prove it.

          It also goes without saying that downstate will say, “you guys have to educate your kids anyway, whether we pay for it or not, and therefore our representatives will oppose any transfers of our money to FCPS.”

  • meh

    “Unfortunately, it has been the practice of the Commonwealth to significantly under-fund core services,

    Perhaps the Commonwealth should stop allowing so many “undocumented migrants” to flood the system. What % of resources is being diverted to ESL spending? When you have a large percentage of people not paying taxes and being a drain on society, it’s no surprise that the commonwealth suffers. Nevertheless, Ken needs his voting bloc

    • Ming the Merciless

      leaving localities to fill funding gaps with local revenues in order to maintain essential services

      Well gee, seems to me that the localities SHOULD fund their own local services. Why should people downstate pay for the “services” in Fairfax County?

      If every locality had to pay for its own services, they might take a more realistic view about what services are “essential”. But that would be anathema to the tax-and-spend crowd!

    • Richard

      Everybody needs their scapegoats.

      There’s only one solution that meets FCPS requirements for 2016. Find the money! Property tax, meals tax, whatever. Make the tough votes, even if it means getting voted out in the next election. Do what’s best for the county. Illegal immigration is a political scapegoat, not an unmanageable financial problem. The benefits of these immigrants balance against the costs more or less, but are not an unwieldy burden that can’t be addressed.

      • Ming the Merciless

        Um, what are those “benefits” exactly?

        • meh

          ¿cómo se dice el trabajo de césped?

        • Sheik Yerbouti

          cheap & disposable labor. If they do a bad job or demand more money you can replace them easily. Young kids today have been told they are entitled to college even if they could barely pass high school so they think manual labor is beneath them.

          • Ming the Merciless

            That doesn’t do ME any good! The benefit of that to me is ZERO! And I resent having to pay for it.

          • Richard

            They also purchase goods from local businesses and pay sales taxes as well as certain other taxes & fees that benefit all of us. Regardless, they’re here and not going anywhere. It’s certainly better for our community that their kids are enrolled in school than not.

          • Ming the Merciless

            Yeah right.

            Bottom line – the original claim that we must raise taxes to pay for the immigrants because their benefits equal their costs is false. A truthful claim would go, “we must raise taxes to pay for immigrants even though the multitude of ordinary taxpayers shoulder all the social and economic costs, and only a few wealthy employers reap the benefits”. But of course the truth is unpalatable and would be a tough sell to the taxpayers.

            The burdens of immigration are, of course, a highly regressive tax that hit the poor and the middle classes the hardest, and the wealthy not at all. I thought good liberals opposed regressive taxation?

            It is a matter of indifference to the community if the immigrants are educated or not. If they want to be educated, they should pay for it themselves. They have no right to come here and expect education (or anything else) at the expense of others.

          • Problem Solver

            If the immigrationally challenged are not paying income taxes, then we need to increase their sales tax. How do you do that.. Add a button to the register.. if you look immigrationally challenged then you hit the immigrationally challenged button the cash register. Boom they pay %10 while non immigrationally challenged pay %5. If they are not immigrationally challenged then at the end of the year when they file their tax returns the immigrationally challenged can apply for a refund.

          • Ming the Merciless

            Average cost per student in FFX is about $14,000. If they paid 10% sales tax, they’d need to spend $140,000 in order to pay for one student. That’s a lot of chips, soda, and cigarettes. I’d be more than happy if they had that kind of income, but we know it’s not even close.

            And furthermore, we know that sales taxes are highly regressive. Don’t liberals hate, hate, hate regressive taxes?

  • Sheik Yerbouti

    They should modernize the tax system, property owners cant be the only citizens paying their fair share. Every resident in the county needs to pay taxes whether they rent or sleep in a flophouse.

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