McDonnell’s Pontius Pilate Pits State Against Localities

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    The Virginia budget shell game is creating tensions in localities revealing the no tax pledge’s fallacy of composition. In the black and white pledger world, there are no consequences to cutting budgets. But stark reality is inspiring grassroots action demanding remedies to the McDonnell budget: LOCAL TAXES.

    “I have softened the blow on local governments to allow them to phase in a small differential in tax revenues that need to be paid by local employers. I’ve allowed them five years to phase that in. I’ve tried to accommodate them, but these are local employees. They pay for teachers; they’re local employees. They have the obligation…We pay a third of all the retirement for teachers even though they’re one hundred percent local employees. This differential that everybody’s talking about is a very small slice of the whole retirement pie” – Governor McDonnell to WHSV, Staunton, VA. (use Search: McDonnell, then select “1 on 1: Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell)

    In Augusta County, an informal citizens group (Support Our Schools) has overwhelmingly demonstrated displeasure, coming out in force to show that grassroots support for funding and necessary tax revenues far outweighs the astroturf pronouncements of the Tea Party. However, popular, oversimplified mantras continue to inform the debate.

    There is no correlation between how much money is spent on schools and educational achievement – Waynesboro Mayor Frank Lucente

    A battle against solving the McDonnell budget failure on the back of localities and schools moves into the chamber of the Waynesboro City Council tomorrow night. The Waynesboro City Council and the School Board are at odds over both a surplus from the prior year and reduced appropriations for the coming year. The stress between the School Board and its own Superintendent, Robin Crowder, has led to much local drama, including a board meeting where Crowder wasn’t invited, a demand by the board for additional administrative cuts, and the Superintendent’s decision to meet that demand by cutting his own pay. The board refused that solution and is making one more bid to council for funding. Local residents have called for a turnout to “yell at the council.”

    Meanwhile, with insufficient funding, necessary repairs have not been made to defective bleachers at Waynesboro High School, forcing graduation to be moved. Ceremonies will be conducted at James Madison University, an hour away. With funding unsettled, there is doubt that the bleachers will even be ready for the opening game of the fall football schedule.

    These situations are being repeated across the Commonwealth. The effects on localities by the economic downturn are being exacerbated by the Governor’s flights of fiscal fancy. His effort to build conservative cred continues to inflict long-term damage to the future of education, localities, and the state.