Fairfax County to General Assembly: Fully Fund Education, Transportation

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

“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.

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