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Op-Ed: Vote For Meals Tax – and Stop Blaming Diversity

by Karen Goff — October 7, 2016 at 12:00 pm 137 Comments

PassionFish Reston/Credit: Passionfood HospitalityThis is an op-ed from Reston resident Lynda Reyes. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

I am writing in support of the Meals Tax. My parents risked their lives to come to this country. They had nothing when they arrived, but they worked long hours at low wages to provide my family with opportunities that are not available in other countries. We made Fairfax County our home, but because of the rhetoric surrounding the Meals Tax, we do not feel welcome here anymore.

In conversations and online comments, there is a consistent emphasis on the burden imposed by kids who are not white and wealthy. One commenter on FCPS School Board member Pat Hynes’ recent op-ed stated that “the outputs of English language learners, special education students, emotionally challenged students, and less financially advantaged students is incommensurate with the financial input” — in other words, it is supposedly a waste of money to educate immigrant kids, kids with special needs, and poor kids.

It is indisputable that our county has changed over the past 20 years — we are more diverse in every sense. According to the FCPS FY17 budget, approximately 13 percent of FCPS students are receiving special education services, about 17 percent are receiving ESOL services, and nearly 25 percent of FCPS students are eligible for free- or reduced-price meals.

I challenge opponents of the Meals Tax to view this diversity as a strength rather than a weakness. You speak about costs, but I speak about opportunities.

The world has come to Fairfax County. FCPS students come from most of the countries in the world and speak nearly 200 languages. As of September 2015, nearly 50 percent of FCPS elementary students speak a language other than English at home.

Let us build on this foundation of diversity to grow new businesses and connections with other countries, to increase exports of physical and online products and services to foreign markets, and to recruit global companies to locate in Fairfax County, where they can find employees with the linguistic skills and cultural knowledge required to succeed in the modern global economy.

But we cannot succeed if we allow the quality of our public schools to decline. As Americans, we celebrate the Horatio Alger paragon of the person who rises from nothing to achieve great success. Every kid deserves the same chance to succeed, so it follows that every kid deserves a quality education.

It is time to set aside the rhetoric, and focus on our shared values and objectives. I ask you to vote YES for the Meals Tax on Nov. 8, so we can provide our public schools with the necessary resources to get the job done — to transform a multilingual and multicultural student body into the next generation of entrepreneurs and employees, to build the future even as we cherish and celebrate the past.

With respect,

Lynda Reyes
Reston

  • Mike M

    Ms Reyes,

    Thank you so much for bringing “the world” to Fairfax County. Now that we are graced with your presence how is it that I owe it to you to reach even deeper into my pocket to educate your kids? How about you reach deeper into your pocket, I already pay for more than my own kids. It is only natural that I grow weary when folks like you want to imply that I am mean, selfish, unenlightened, or bigoted when I don’t want to pay more.

    I am curious, how many people should I be expected to accommodate? Is there a limit? Does the County or the state or the country owe the people being asked to foot the bill any controls on the influx?

    I can promise you, Fairfax County will remain “diverse” even after this wretched tax is rejected at the polls. You challenge me to embrace diversity. I challenge you and the other supporters of this proposed additional tax to deal with it within your current substantial means. Manage.

    My ancestors came to this country with nothing. They worked hard and at extreme personal risk in coal mines to build a future. They DID NOT ask for handouts nor income redistribution to attain their piece of the dream. Nor would they have received such welfare for in that day, Horatio Alger’s day, their welcome was even less pleasant than the one you received. In that time, welfare was not even considered as a way of life as it is today.

    My ancestors did not come here to bring “the world” to a country in need of a scolding. They were here to be a part of the America that was being built into what your family came to be a part of. That America was not built on welfare and income redistribution.

    • Arielle in NoVA

      “We are turning further into darkness when we are expected to accommodate unlimited numbers, many of whom think they need to chasten the natives while these natives are expected to pay their way. It is doubtful they even share the values that made this country worth moving to.” – oh, are you Native American?

      • Mike M

        Yes. I was born here. My parents were born here. Their parents were born here. That’s pretty native. But if you want to go down that rabbit hole, you are in for an education. Would you like for us to be inundated the way they were? I say no.

        • anon

          I too am fearful of smallpox blankets and unimaginably advanced weapons from distant lands.

          • Mike M

            You should be. So, do we defend ourselves, or do we roll over? I think history quite beyond that of American Indians demonstrates what happens when you allow yourself to be overrun.

          • anon

            If you look only at the subset of interactions that are adversarial and choose to make this one of those, then maybe. Not sure why you even assume I’m in your “we,” though.

          • susie

            Why not define who “you” are then?

          • BGEMD 9406

            Wow, Mike M. I was hoping you were reasonable but misinformed. But way to go from zero to racist in record time.

    • Guest

      Our ancestors came to America to prosper, to build a better place, and to make it safer for all their children. But they were not the first, and they are not the last, and our ancestors accounted for that.

      America’s economy has at times grown enormously and suffered greatly. To moderate upheaval, in the 1930s we implemented job programs and initiatives to assist individuals, families, cities, states. These programs don’t only help people living on the other side of the tracks. They improve the health of our nation.

      America welcomes “the world” because new arrivals build, and promote, and achieve, which directly benefits our economy. Immigrants are more than twice as likely to start new businesses as natives, forming 25% of all new businesses and job growth. Around 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or first generation natives.

      Do not look to the austere past for your ideals. America has been wrathful against its own children, terrible in its moments of self-destruction, and wasteful in its ignorance.

      But now we have a greater understanding. We know that providing for the health of our community’s children is not turning further into darkness unless you worry away the day fearing the night. We bear one another’s burdens even if we do not share beliefs. And when we are not individually prosperous, we help our neighbors, even those new to the country, because that is how America grows.

      • Mike M

        Welcoming is not the same as paying their way, especially if they want to chastise us for being white and “wealthy.” No one paid my ancestors way and they wouldn’t have wanted anyone to do so. You didn’t answer my question: For how many should I pay? Is there no limit?

        You have no real logic. You say nice things about immigration in general, but you have no mathematical guarantee that the cost is worth the benefit. At the end of the day, you are saying, “Pay up, Mike. I thinks it’s “good for America.” Well, I see that it is increasingly costly for natives and there is no end in sight. I think it’s bad for America in 2016. We simply cannot afford to educate the world to current FCPS standards. In fact, you could bankrupt the planet pursuing the righteous notion that we have to pay for FCPS educational standards and US healthcare standards for the whole world.

        Ultimately, it is only ethical that people live within their means. Not within mine.

        You may scorn the past, but the values of the day were instrumental in building what we have today. By the way, the past you scorn is from where you drew your stats. We have a whole new wave among us.

        Not all immigrants are the same. It’s a simple fact that Europeans fit in better, and are probably skewing your stats. Many Third Worlders who come here with money have stolen from their homeland and come here with the intention of recreating the environment they left. Lately, many come with a gross sense of entitlement and no acceptance of our values.

        By the way, the New Deal did not help the country. It did irreparable damage. It’s odd that is not taught in this country until you look at economics from a graduate level. That is because of the same biased forces cannot manage our schools within a budget. They twist curricula in their day jobs.

        As for this, “America has been wrathful against its own children, terrible in its moments of self-destruction, and wasteful in its ignorance.”
        – If you want to show me a country that has been better for immigrants on the scale of this country, go for it.
        – If you want to move to Europe, I will help you pack.

        • Guest

          I included figures showing that immigrants have provided and continue to provide economic benefit to the country. I encourage you to research same, since you have repeatedly shown that you are unwilling to read information presented in line or linked that directly opposes your unsupported assertions.

          Our country enacts specific limits to immigration. Like the country and the world, they do change, but they are never endless despite your screed.

          You appear to want to drop all works and ignore or possibly repeat the more harmful elements of America’s past. We operate on the scale we do out of a combination of luck, skill, and experience. I encourage you to look past the New Deal and examine the current programs that are part of your contract with the Commonwealth and the nation as a citizen.

          • Scott H

            It is “wrathful” for you to demand the resources that others have earned for your own perceived benefit.

          • Mike M

            You cannot talk benefit, unless you know costs.
            You may have heard of illegal immigration? It’s been in the news.
            Contract? Did I sign it?

          • Guest

            We know the costs, they have been summarized in many comments on this article. The benefit is cheap labor and highly motivated citizens like our immigrant ancestors.

            You cannot oppose statistics by simply calling all statistics lies and damned lies.

            You may have heard of naturalization? It’s been in the news.

            You are a citizen. Do you benefit from your location?

          • Mike M

            I pay my way. You should too. They should too. The school needs to manage.

          • Mike M

            We cannot know the costs. We cannot quantify the benefits. It’s too complex a value. Those who report on it are biased in what they present. Do the benefits exceed the costs? You have no idea. Consider crime? Consider the numbers. Consider the origins and the year. Is this latest wave from Latin America is different. The new businesses and jobs? Do the businesses fail. Most do. The jobs? Are they filed by extended family members – also recent immigrants. Are they like the barber shop in Herndon? The place had about 20 “employees.” All were teen or 20-something girls. Half were pregnant. Most had toddlers running around the place. I thought, who is going to pay for this? We know the answer. I am. And it will never be enough. Say no to the meals tax.

      • Mike M

        I should credit you and Ms Reyes for your honesty. You both are discussing this new tax as a referendum on weather we should reach deeper into our pockets to cover the extra costs of educating recent immigrants – mostly Latino. Thankfully we can dispense with the revenue diversification canard and debate the actual issue.

        • Guest

          Of course that is the issue from Ms. Reyes’ point of view. That is the tone of conversation she gets from unusually loud and exclusionary members of the community.

          You responded in kind to her personal concerns, making clear that you object to this specific tax. You grew the scope of the subject, and observed that the country’s revenue base has shifted over time to accommodate additional needs.

          I simply responded to your observation, and pointed out that fulfilling the nation’s needs results in improved innovation and an overall economic health. It is a strength rather than a detriment, and Ms. Reyes is entirely supported in her assertions.

          I admire your open acknowledgement that your primary opposition to revenue diversification is on the basis on battling recent arrivals to our community. But you are chasing your own tail.

          • Mike M

            Ahem. You missed my last two sentences? Or are pretending to have missed them.

          • Guest

            You want an answer to that again? Very well.

            Yes, we should seek new funding for the additional student head count. As noted by the county, they are restricted in funding opportunities and the meals tax is an available and sensible method. I believe we should do it because we’re good people and earn enough to pay it. But if you need an economic reason, it’s also because recent immigrants provide benefit immediately (cheap labor, additional tax basis), and over the long term (entrepreneurship, growth of business and job creation).

            I should also point out that, as others have already argued, the working poor will actually pay more meals tax as a percentage of income, because they generally work far more and cook far less than the middle and upper class. Ironically, this is usually argued by someone opposed to the meals tax, in conversation with a self-described working poor person.

          • Greg

            “I believe we should do it because we’re good people and earn enough to pay it.”

            Keep your sticky hands off our money.

            And your beliefs about our earnings? For shame.

          • BGEMD 9406

            Greg, every day you use government services and government-regulated services that are subsidized by my tax dollars, including roads, public safety services, medical services, trash and recycling services, water, gas, electricity, and internet services, to name a few. If you want to keep your money, no problem. Leave.

          • Greg

            Wrong, so so wrong. The government has nothing to do with electricity and gas and internet other than to tax them.

            And, how rude and arrogant that you think you know our income and what we spend it on.

            We pay plenty in taxes and don’t need to pay a penny more. CUT expenses and do more with less.

            Vote No on the food / meals tax.

          • BGE

            If you think government has nothing to do with utility services, you need to educate yourself on utility regulation. Government has everything to do with every aspect of utility service.

          • Greg

            Wrong, wrong wrong. No one but you, and after the fact, brought up utility regulation.

            You wrote: “… government-regulated services that are subsidized by my tax dollars…”

            You most definitely do not subsidize any services we use.

            Do you not read your own comments?

          • Mike M

            Isn’t that like robbery? Give me your money or leave? How about if you need other people’s money, go away.

        • BGEMD 9406

          Mike M, while you may want to focus on immigrants, the hate is directed equally at poor kids and kids with special needs. You are standing together with people who hate poor kids, autistic kids, and kids with emotional problems. Congrats.

        • BGEMD 9406

          Mike M, two points. One, you are not making ANY distinction between legal and illegal immigrants. You just don’t like immigrants, period. Two, you are focusing on immigrants, but you are standing together with people who think educating poor kids and special education kids (not just immigrant kids) is a waste of money.

          • susie

            I disagree – he simply does not like any one that tries to get a free ride. You, on the other hand, seem to despise Americans.

          • Mike M

            I don’t like paying an additional tax for them. They are here. We are paying. I just say no additional tax to cover them.

      • Scott H

        I will take your post at Face value.
        WHAT THE HELL DOES IT HAVE TO DO WITH A MEALS TAX?

        You make it sound like people who oppose it are mean and “wrathful”.
        Let me explain it to you.

        Fairfax County spends $7.13 Billion a year
        The County directly fund $1.9B of the FCPS budget.

        We do not have a revenue problem. If the BoS thinks FCPS needs another $70M, they can find plenty of areas in the other $5.23 Billion of spending.

        STOP THE MADNESS!

        • Guest

          Hm. Okay.

          Ms. Reyes wrote that people make arguments against the meals tax that are angry, and more particularly bigoted against immigrants and children of immigrants in particular.

          Mike M responded that that his ancestors didn’t receive any help or education, and that changing county demographics don’t support additional contributions on his part.

          I responded that we (as a county and nation) actually bank on recent immigration, and we should support them getting up to speed.

          Does that help?

          • Scott H

            No. This ridiculous new way for the politicians to take your money has nothing to do with education or immigrants. It’s simply a new way for greedy politicians to extract money for their own benefit.
            Does THAT help?

        • BGEMD 9406

          Scott H, your numbers are wrong. Read the budget. It is all available online. The county budget is about $4 billion, and the FCPS budget is about $2 billion.

          • Scott H

            Read the FY17 budget. That’s where I got them. Even if your numbers are accurate, the point still holds.

          • One Really

            That’s your famous line “Read the budget”. I believe most of us have. The point is I don’t want a meal tax simplying just to line Fairfax county’s pockets with more money.
            The 70% to address teacher’s salaries if you think your under paid then go somewhere else.
            This isn’t about the school or kids, its about 6 figure teachers.

      • Scott H

        One more question.
        Why is it wrathful to want to keep the money one earnes, but not wrathful for you to demand the money of others?

  • Scott H

    What a ridiculous letter. These are two completely different issues and should not be co-mingled.

    K-12 Education – aka “The kids” – as a driver for this is a fraud. Politicians always invoke some emotional appeal (the kids, the poor) to drive some passage of an otherwise unpalatable tax they want to pass. Then, they bait and switch the public.
    The Meals Tax will NOT result in more money for FCPS. The meals tax revenue will wind up replacing money the BoS diverts away from FCPS to other pet budget items.

    DO NOT give the politicians another source of taxation to wrench taxpayers with.

    • Guest

      The Meals Tax will NOT result in more money for FCPS.

      False. 70% of the net revenues are dedicated to Fairfax County Public Schools.

      • Why do you bother?

        But the bill doesn’t prevent the county from merely “moving” $$ from FCPS to another budget line, resulting in no real net budget increase for the schools but another burden on taxpayers. This is not our first rodeo. Taxpayers know exactly how this type of shuffle works.

        • Guest

          I misunderstood his intent. It’s obviously meant to expand county finances.

      • Scott H

        I know reading comprehension is difficult, but please at least try.
        Once the 70% comes in from the meals tax and is appropriated to FCPS, the pols will begin diverting tax revenue from other (non-meals tax sources) away from FCPS. It happens every time. Wise-up!

        • Guest

          True, I misread your phrasing, I’m sorry.

        • BGEMD 9406

          The Meals Tax will provide MORE money for Fairfax County Public Schools. The Board of Supervisors and School Board issued a joint statement this week stating unequivocally that the Meals Tax revenues will be used to supplement (not substitute for) existing funding. (https://www.fcps.edu/news/joint-statement-meals-tax-referendum) .

          • Greg

            Right — just like government’s promise that the car tax would be eliminated. We just paid ours two days ago, and that dreaded tax is FAR from eliminated.

            Same with tolls — we were promised that once the toll road was paid for the tolls would forever disappear. The tolls are higher than ever and going up all the time.

            Worse, we still pay toll collectors to sit there slowing down the already moribund traffic. Yet one more wasteful government cost that should have been eliminated long ago.

            If you believe for one nanosecond that either the county or the schools need more money….

          • BGEMD 9406

            Greg, yep, I do believe it. Why? Because I read the budget, and I watched the proceedings. That is called democracy — we all have the right and responsibility to participate. If you don’t, then you are adding nothing to the debate.

          • Greg

            Good luck with that. You’ve added nothing but your opinions and you fail to respect the opinions of others. That’s no democracy, teacher.

            For shame.

    • BGEMD 9406

      The Meals Tax will provide MORE money for Fairfax County Public Schools. The Board of Supervisors and School Board issued a joint statement this week stating unequivocally that the Meals Tax revenues will be used to supplement (not substitute for) existing funding. (https://www.fcps.edu/news/joint-statement-meals-tax-referendum)

  • susie

    You sound angry at “white and wealthy” people. Why is that? If I broke into your house and helped myself to your food, and your bank account while you were working 60+hrs a week – how would you feel? If my justification for doing this was that I was not of the same color as you – that I did have the same job as you ( which was earned by schooling and hard work) and that I spoke another language – would you accept me with open arms? And, God forbid, if I didn’t, would you be ok if I harassed your elected officials at their homes? Would you be ok if I demanded that your laws be ignored so I could take whatever I wanted?

    • BGEMD 9406

      Susie, I think you forgot your WWJD bracelet. Remember him? He was the one who preached to the poor, to prostitutes, to the undesirables of the world. He was the one who preached the Good News to the world — oh yeah, the world that has come to Fairfax County

      • susie

        I believe Jesus supported His Father’s commandments – one of which is “Thou shall not steal” Do you remember that one?

        • BGE

          Seriously?! Jesus’ message is love your neighbor. Guess what? They are your neighbor.

          • susie

            Thou shalt not steal.

          • Guest

            Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.

  • Greg

    “We made Fairfax County our home, but because of the rhetoric surrounding the Meals Tax, we do not feel welcome here anymore.”

    Then move where the “rhetoric” is more to your liking.

    Vote NO on the meals tax.

    • BGEMD 9406

      Fairfax County imposes taxes on hotels, specific professions, etc. I support the Meals Tax because I do not want a property tax increase this spring.

      • Greg

        Your logic fails. Where is there a connection between the burdensome regressive meals tax and a property tax increase next spring?

        More to the point, why is the county and school waste and redundancy not being cut so that all taxes can be reduced?

        • BGEMD 9406

          Greg, you have not identified any county and school waste and redundancy, so unless and until you show us the money, you don’t have a leg to stand on.

          • Greg

            Yes, ignorant one, we have. Many times and in many different places. For the lazy here are a few:

            Any organization that needs more than 500 pages for a budget is bloated.
            Any county that needs no fewer than six public transportation entities is bloated.
            Any school board that pays itself and then raises that pay far in excess of any reasonable measure is bloated.
            Any school board that pays for secretaries for itself is bloated.
            Any school system that determines that air-conditioned buses are mandatory (but neglects seat belts) is bloated.
            Any entity that funds a pension in today’s world is bloated.
            Any entity that funds TWO pensions is bloated.
            Any entity that sends THREE fire engines, a supervisor truck and an ambulance when all that was called for is an ambulance is bloated.
            Any library system that throws aways thousands of brand new books and audio materials is bloated.
            Any school board that hires and pays her outrageous compensation an incompetent superintendent who quits mid year is bloated.
            Any school system that spends tax dollars on more than essential life skills and English is bloated. We need 0 planetaria– let alone eight of them.

          • BGE

            Greg, I don’t know your sources for thinking they are throwing away new books, but if accurate, I hope you will engage with the Supervisors and School Board to share your ideas. A constructive approach could achieve your objectives.

          • Greg

            But what about your enlightened democratic process? Surely you cannot have missed the news on the waste — it was widely reported, including here and, multiple times, in the Washington Post and the Reston Times.

            For shame!

          • BGE

            How can a guy who votes for Trump cry “for shame”? Just like William Bennett can preach about values and then endorse Trump.

          • Greg

            Focus. You can’t make a salient or cogent point, so we will remind you:

            Vote NO on the meals tax!

          • Mike M

            Have you gotten a whiff of the opposition?

        • LaureenMT

          FCPS spends $1,000 *less* per student now than it did in 2008. Where is the waste? Employers locate in Fairfax because our excellent schools attract top employees. This small tax is needed to maintain our excellence.

          • Greg

            See below for just a few. And it doesn’t spend less — it wastes too much on administration and frills that need to go.

            The state, the county and the schools are all dropping in function and benefits — and it’s not for lack of money — our taxes have increased exponentially here all during this time of decline.

            And, we all know that the best employees are not attracted to much here — they locate to places in CA and WA and MA where fun, challenging jobs are available meeting their needs. After all, no kid today wants to maintain 50-year-old COBOL and FORTRAN programs for the IRS and CIA while working 7- 3 shifts in dungeons that are little nicer than prisons.

          • Mike M

            No. Employers come here because of the proximity to the federal government, its diverse (economically) supplier base and population. The Virginia side is a better business environment than Maryland and DC. The area has a temperate climate and access to major seaports and airports. It has easy access to the northeast, southeast, and midwestern markets.

          • Mike M

            Who are the new students? See, Laureen if you inject a high maintenance body of students and commit to paying for them, you are going to need some more money, or you will be spending less per student. So, where does it end? Endless new taxation, ever tighter management, don’t commit to paying the extra maintenance, make people pay their own way. In theory, expanding population expands the tax base and managers can gain efficiency from economy of scale. But if that expansion can’t pay it’s own way, you are in an UNSUSTAINABLE situation.

      • cRAzy

        Don’t worry, you’ll have a property tax increase in the spring, maybe both rates and valuation too! And your vote on a meals tax will have no bearing.

  • Why do you bother?

    With respect: NO.

  • Nyla J.

    Diversity aside, vote NO to the meals tax.

    Like every other tax, it will keep increasing until my fixed income grandma can’t afford her darn pre-made potato salad.

    • RestonGrandma

      This has nothing to do with diversity. I have nothing against immigrants – like all us my family came here from somewhere else. What this is completely about is whether I can afford more money in taxes on top of increases in property taxes and the threat of a special tax for Reston to cover the greedy developers who are taking over our town. And the answer is I can’t and I have to use what little voting power I have to say so. If my pockets hadn’t already been picked to an intolerable level I would have been in support of this. But this has nothing with any animosity on my part for immigrants and I resent this person trying to make me feel guilty for something I haven’t done or feel.

      • Edward Calvert

        Omg, just please make it stop. Once the IRS and the state has taxed my income, and the county taxes my property (real estate and vehicle ), plus sales tax, gas tax, meals tax , a darn parking rtc tax I have nothing left !!! When do I get to hold onto something that I worked for? ? Oh, ps, forgot fica

  • UStifosi .

    Luckily the polling shows that this thing will not come close to passing. I recommend that L Reyes spend her time focused on reducing the fraud and waste within the current budget spend. If she refocused that energy wisely I think she’ll achieve her supposed goal. It’s funny the effort that goes into corralling more money rather than maximizing the hundreds of millions that’s already there.

    • Scott H

      Bingo!
      The county spends $7.13B
      The county gives $1.9B to FCPS
      That leaves $5.23B

      No way they can say that they can’t find $70M “for the kids” in that $5.23B
      The $7.13B budget means the county spends $6300 for every person in the county(taxpayer or not). It’s outrageous!

      • BGEMD 9406

        Scott H. Your numbers are way off. About 50% of the county budget goes to FCPS, so the county budget is closer to $4 billion, not $7 billion.

        • cRAzy

          BGEMD–You’re talking operating budget. Scott is sorta talking total expenditures, which now are about $8B/year and includes bond payments, etc.

          • BGE

            Ok, but operating budget and bond money are strictly separated. Bond money can only be used for construction/renovation. So it is not available to use for the objectives described by the School Board, namely increasing teacher salaries and reducing class sizes.

          • susie

            Enforce the immigration laws, deport the lawbreakers – problem solved without stealing from Americans.

          • IGotsTheFever

            yeah!! and build a wall, and make mexico pay for it, and grope anyone you want, and and and what else, oh yeah, ban all the muslins. yeah!! let’s make merica wite agin.

          • susie

            You obviously have a problem with the rule of law. Feel free to leave.

          • cRAzy

            Mmmmm . . . it’s still money out of my pocket. And, yes, it’s used to build schools too.

        • Scott H

          From the County Budget summary:

          “On the expenditure side, the FY 2017 Adopted Budget Plan totals $7.47 billion and reflects an increase of $341.79 million…”

          http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dmb/fy2017/adopted/overview/07_budget_summary.pdf

    • BGEMD 9406

      UStifosi. I recommend you read the 500-page FCPS budget (available online at https://www.fcps.edu/sites/default/files/media/pdf/FY17Approved%20Budget_0.pdf) and identifying the “fraud and waste.” I have read the budget, and I found none. I challenge you to find something different. Add some facts to the debate rather than uninformed opinion.

      • susie

        Your salary would be one example.

        • BGE

          Insults are great when you lack ideas and solutions.

          • Greg

            Susie has a great idea and solution — that being eliminating your salary and benefit costs from our tax burden.

          • BGE

            Done! Easy since I am not paid by FCPS.

  • FairlyBright

    Please don’t take the attitude of the “people” that frequently comment here as a typical of the overall population. You’ll notice it’s the same group here with the same big0ted attitudes who also swear they are not. One would hope that if they weren’t behind the cloak of the internet they wouldn’t actually treat people with such low levels of disrespect.
    Many are simply trolls, and the rest are simply bad people who can’t accept the fact that they profit off the backs of hard working minorities.

    I agree, vote YES to keep our schools top notch. Don’t listen to the naysayers who love to predict a future of the sky is falling, the sky is falling.

    • Scott H

      Wishing to keep the money one earns is not bigoted.
      Demanding the money and resources of others is greedy.

      Why are you greedy?

    • Mike M

      Thanks for clearing things up. If we are against a new tax we are bigots. If we aren’t we are “fairly bright.” The L-word last line of defense. It’s been used a lot lately.

      • BGEMD 9406

        You are a bigot because you express bigoted views, not because you oppose the Meals Tax.

    • Greg

      “Many are simply trolls, and the rest are simply bad people…”

      Who’s the intolerant, disrespectful bigot here?

      • BGEMD 9406

        You. Did you read your own comments?

        • Greg

          Of course — every last one of them posted on a wide array of topics — totally unlike you, teacher, who have posted nothing other than your opinion on this one narrow topic.

          And lecturing us on what democracy is? For shame!

          • BGEMD 9406

            Why are bigots always saying “for shame” — wear your hood proudly, kid, no shame required. You have lots of company this year.

          • Greg

            Once again: who’s the bigot here?

            “…wear your hood proudly, kid,…”

    • susie

      Since you are fairly bright, I will hope you can answer this simple question: Why do we have to pay more and more to “KEEP our schools top notch”?

  • Mike M

    Are you kidding me? There is no magic money. There are so many people paying next to nothing. I pay far higher than average. So who exactly is paying for those “others?”

    • Edward Calvert

      Let’s shake the money tree out back

    • anon

      False. If neither of us can afford a car, but we each can afford half the cost, and then we pool our money to buy a car that we share with minimal conflict, then we’ve basically created “magic money” in the sense that we both mostly have a car (with a full car’s value, give or take), after only having paid half.

      Your impression that somehow you bought the car and someone else is using it just isn’t the fact of the matter. You’ve presumably spent your entire life (as did many generations of your ancestors) deriving value from our shared metaphorical “car” (roads, schools, market distribution channels, etc) and you’ve never ever ever come close to paying for exactly what you took. Paying “more than average” does not suffice.

      If you want to insist on certain policies, fine. Let’s not have a meals tax. Let’s decide not to better ourselves by welcoming others and tolerating the costs they may incur that are additional to the costs we already incur. But don’t for a second think you’re going to convince most of us that you’re some self-sufficient demigod who COULD survive on his own in a desert or forest, but choose to live where there are paved roads and government jobs out of generosity for your fellow man.

      • Mike M

        Typical L-word fallacy. I tolerate some taxes and some government, so I should tolerate any and all taxes and endlessly expanding government. Google “limits.”

        At my income, I pay waaaay more than half. Many people, you know who, pay next to nothing. That’s why I say no to an additional burden. No apologies for my income. I educated myself and worked very hard. Not for you and anyone who can get here.

        Your arguments are weak. But they are a step above calling people who disagree with you bigots.

  • RealRestonian

    Surely the folks making the rude, insensitive comments about their neighbor who wrote the Op-Ed are not Reston people! Republicans from Mitch McConnell Land, perhaps?!

  • melissa k.

    Vote NO, Vote No, really, this tax is lame. my relatives came from Eastern Europe as well, guess what , They learned ENGLISH. Last I checked English is the official language of the USA. I’m tired of paying for spanish speaking channels from Comcast, perhaps comcast should broadcast CBC station

    .

    • Why do you bother?

      Don’t know WHERE you checked – there is NO official language of the USA.

      • Mike M

        But there should be.

      • BGEMD 9406

        Melissa K, guess what? No, they didn’t learn English, and apparently neither did you.

  • Pat Hynes

    Great letter! Thank you, Ms. Reyes. You’re right that anti-immigrant sentiment lies behind some of the backlash against any effort to fund the great schools this community wants. Fortunately, in my experience, that divisive voice does not have a seat at the school board table. It certainly is not heard in classrooms, where students and teachers experience every day the gifts of learning in a global community. We have much to be thankful for, including neighbors like you who are willing to advocate for excellent schools.

    • Greg

      “Fortunately, in my experience, that divisive voice does not have a seat at the school board table.”

      More of your (un)fortunate tolerance? Or, more likely, is it your bigotry on public display?

    • Mike M

      Pat, Ms Reyes’s letter was anti-white. She alone brought the race issue to fore. Like most Democrats these days you have stooped to the level of calling those with whom you disagree anti-immigrant and divisive. Read my comments again and tell me where I said anything of the sort. My ancestors were immigrants. I simply resent you throwing my money at their feet.

      Glad you supported my comment that you and your left-wing ilk have distorted the conversation in classrooms.

    • susie

      As a former Fairfax school teacher Ms. Hynes, I can attest to the decline of the once great school system known as FCPS. It is because of you and your anti-American, radical, bigoted views that this once great school system is in decline. The morale among teachers is horrific. The talk among teachers and administration in closed door meetings is that a “certain population that shall not be named” does not value education. Yet the teachers, American students, and the community must, MUST cater to them. Now you are demanding more of our hard earned money – and if we don’t give you more, we are “divisive and anti-immigrant”. If people like you remain at “the school board table” I have no doubt you will destroy this once great school system.

      • Guest

        You add nothing with your name-calling.

    • One Really

      Advocate for excellent schools or advocate for six-figure teacher pay?
      That’s really all this is about, right?
      BTW there is a civics teacher telling kids that FCPS is broke and their parent need to vote yes.

      • Greg

        That teacher should be fired. One more six-figure waste that can be immediately cut.

  • Sean Barnett

    Thank you, Ms. Reyes. I also support the meals tax proposal as a way to provide more resources for our schools.

  • Louis Marschalko

    Diversity only divides us. Why are only Western nations asked to accept permanent immigrants from cultures which have totally differing values, faiths or social values?

    • BGEMD 9406

      Louis, every generation of immigrants is perceived as holding “different values, faiths, or social values.” Irish were viewed as a different race, slaves to the Pope, lazy, drunk, etc. Italians, same. Eastern Europeans, same. And I am just talking about European immigrants. I will just assume that you are familiar with the negative stereotypes about African-Americans — not only historically, but also today. And Hispanics… And Asian-Americans… It just goes on and on. It is all bunk, pure and simple.

      • Mike M

        These groups you mentioned didn’t ask for hand-outs. If they did they would not have gotten them. It’s 2016.

        • BGE

          Mike M, you are making the same argument as the British who denied relief aid to the Irish during the Great Potato Famine. Just like current arguments about voter fraud are identical to justifications for poll taxes. Read your history and reconsider your positions.

          • Mike M

            False analogy. The Irish were in their native land. The British were the “immigrants.” By the way, it’s simplistic to say they denied aid and relief. You are asking that I pay even more than I already pay for a very substantial wave that has already negatively impacted our schools. There is no end to this. Vote NO on this additional tax.

  • Hatersgonnahate

    Happy to see some logic and reason in Ms. Reyes’ letter. It takes courage these days to send in letters to a site known for its trolls. Combing through comments this looks like a lot of recycling of complaints from the restaurant owners — you guys all work for the restaurants?

    • susie

      Do u work for the school board?

    • Greg

      No more so than the supporters all work for the schools.

  • Anonymous

    Lots of interesting comments here.

    For those seeking more information in order to make an educated voter decision, detail on Fairfax County’s official ‘pro’ perspective can be viewed here:

    http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/mealstax/

    The County’s ‘Pro’ tax position notes that:
    “the Board of Supervisors’ reason for seeking authority to impose a meals tax is to reduce the County’s dependence on real estate taxes. Currently, nearly 65 percent of Fairfax County’s General Fund budget relies upon real estate taxes. State law limits what the County can tax and how it may otherwise raise revenue. Almost 90 percent of Fairfax County non-property tax revenues are capped, limited, or controlled by the state. A meals tax would give the County a new source of revenue, which would help diversify the County’s revenue base. At the maximum 4% tax rate, a meals tax would generate an estimated $99 million per year.”

    Conversely, the Minority Report (No tax argument) appendix from the 2014 Meals Tax Referendum Task Force Report offers some ‘Con’ perspectives, as viewable here:

    http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/mealstax/fairfax-county-taxpayers-alliance-minorityreport.pdf

    From the Minority Report summary:
    “The Task Force majority report overlooks the dominant role of employee compensation in past and future tax increases and instead implies that tax
    increases are primarily caused by population and school enrollment growth.
    even with a meals tax, annual raises for employees and the rising cost of
    health insurance and pensions will still drive large increases in real estate
    taxes or cuts in services.”

    Although I personally am still undecided, it strikes me that the question hinges primarily on whether or not you trust the FFX County Board to be good stewards of your tax dollars.

  • Mike M

    I noted the tradition of discrimination above. Europeans do fit in better despite that, and they didn’t come in Ms Reyes expectation of a hand-out. They may be the one who built the businesses you wrote about. I note that Indians seem to do well too. Don’t tell me how to speak PC.

  • Mike M

    So, for how many other people must I pay, my Socialist correspondent?

  • susie

    Wow – such hostility! We are a capitalistic society. Don’t like it – leave.

  • WPoD

    I don’t know what happened, so I’ll speculate. Mike has gotten significantly worse over the past few months spewing his version of rayshul hate and his monotonous placing of the blame on the “L” group. He used to actually make some sense, not anymore. I can only suspect that he, as many others, have become emboldened by their dear leader and feel it is socially acceptable to vocalize and ferment their hate against anyone who doesn’t look like the guy in the mirror. He’s worked himself up into a froth and is now simply blabbering non-sense.
    Susie on the other hand seems to always have been that way with her comments on this board. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt that maybe she used to be an effective educator, but thankfully she has retired and isn’t able to infect our current impressionable youth with her version of hate.

    Anyhow, Lynda is right, the meals tax is a good thing for the schools, our students deserve a great education. I’m willing to help pay for it, you should too!

    • One Really

      So you would like to just feeding the pig that is FCPS?

    • Mike M

      You add nothing with your name-calling.

    • susie

      When you have no rational argument – you immediately go for the same robotic responses – racist, bigot, hater. FCPS is in decline due to the socialist policies of the democrats currently in power. As my friend from Shanghai told me – socialism doesn’t work. Capitalism requires hard work, discipline and character – and can provide huge rewards.
      I was at a dinner party and met a couple from Lebanon who immigrated here back in the 70s. They complained how current immigrants are refusing to assimilate. They told me when they first arrived here, they were struck by how hard Americans work. Some of their relatives couldn’t handle it and left.
      If you truly care about FCPS, you will vote NO on the meals tax. Socialism NEVER works.

  • One Really

    I like how when people argue with you then they’re a racist.
    I am sure you will label me one. I am white middle age male and all white guys are racist. But they’re the only ones.
    What the hell doesn’t it have to do with a meal tax?

  • BGE

    It took you two days to come up with that response?

    • Guest

      Mike M is busy doing his best to keep America from turning further into darkness.

  • susie

    End sanctuary cities, enforce immigration laws, deport lawbreakers, end birthright citizenship. So many problems solved.

  • Guest

    Reading the response, their argument is you seem like a reasonable person, but you are on the same side as people who are expressing racist, elitist, and eugenicist rhetoric. So basically not how you chose to interpret it.

  • Guest

    You add nothing with your name-calling.

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