Op-Ed: PTA Urges Passing the Meals Tax

by RestonNow.com October 5, 2016 at 1:00 pm 27 Comments

This is an op-ed by Tony Shivers, Vice President of Advocacy for the 
Fairfax County Council of PTAs (FCCPTA). It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

FCCPTAAs Vice President of Advocacy of the Fairfax County Council of PTAs, I urge my fellow parents, residents, and business owners to vote YES for the non-partisan meals tax on Nov. 8.

For just a few pennies more:

  • A 4-percent tax on prepared meals will generate $100 million for schools and county services, with $28 million being paid by tourists and visitors to Fairfax;
  • FCPS will receive 70 percent of those revenues to help stem the loss of our best teachers and address classroom size;
  • County services will receive 30 percent of net revenues to address unmet public safety needs and those of our libraries and parks;
  • Fairfax County can diversify its tax base and relieve property tax pressure on homeowners while maintaining its AAA bond rating; and capture revenue from travelers and non-resident workers that utilize County programs and services.

Why a meals tax, rather than a tax on cigarettes or alcohol? The answer is simple. Virginia state law strictly limits the taxing authority of its counties — a meals tax is the only option at this level of government.

Why not pursue state funding? The short answer is that our children will be grown by the time state funding is brought to an appropriate level for Fairfax County. The state continues to push more of the cost of K-12 education back to localities. Fairfax County estimates that the shortfall in state funding for K-12 education has climbed to more than $1 billion annually since 2009.

In fact, the reliability of the state money promised to education is now in question. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe recently advised the state legislature that that Commonwealth may experience as much as a $1.5 billion revenue shortfall in its two-year budget.

Historically, PTA is an advocacy organization, and the efforts of parents have resulted in immunizations, school lunches, child labor laws, among other accomplishments. PTAs do not promote candidates for election, but they do promote issues which benefit children.

Virginia PTA supports any meals tax where 50 percent of the revenue goes to public schools. Here in Fairfax the proposed meals tax would do far more.

The PTA’s motto is “Every Child. One Voice.” All Fairfax County children need the best education our community can deliver. Parents, please vote yes for your children. Vote yes for the meals tax.

Tony Shivers
Vice President of Advocacy
Herndon, VA

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