Home Education Del. Mark Levine Completely Debunks “Partisan Hack Job” Editorial by Roanoke Times,...

Del. Mark Levine Completely Debunks “Partisan Hack Job” Editorial by Roanoke Times, Falsely Blaming *Democrats* (WTF?), Not *Republicans*, For Underfunding Public Education!

It's bad enough the media does "both sides-ism"; this is much worse.

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As I’ve written over the years, the Roanoke Times editorial page is abysmal (also see Roanoke Times Publishes Op-Ed From Self-Proclaimed “White Supremacist” Who Argues that Anyone Mentioning Racism Is a Racist, etc.), and sadly that doesn’t appear to have changed. So thank you to Del. Mark Levine for responding to that paper’s latest idiocy, or as Del. Levine calls it “a partisan hack job,” about why – get this! – House *Democrats* (not Republicans, who have screwed over rural Virginia for years) supposedly turning their backs on rural Virginia and on public education. This is, of course, completely false and utterly laughable. In fact, as Del. Levine points out, We Democrats have put far more money into schools and teachers than Republicans have, and we do so consistently.” Also: “The same people that praise this constitutional amendment would be the first to complain if Virginia courts relied on this amendment to raise Virginia taxes without legislative approval to comply with its vague constitutional mandate.

And:

If Republicans support higher taxes to fund our schools, they need to come right out and say so! And introduce a law to do it. And say exactly who they would tax to pay for it. Because all I see from them is tax cuts for jet owners and coal magnates and big business.

Also:

Finally you should know that our funding formula already gives rural schools five times what Alexandria gets, even though Alexandria public schools have more than half our kids on free and reduced lunch due to living at or close to poverty. And sometimes rural schools have inadequate funding because they refuse to raise taxes on their wealthy landowners.

All of which is 100% accurate, unlike the latest trash editorial/hit job by the Roanoke Times. Let’s just hope that people are smart enough about newspaper editorial boards, and where they’re coming from, to read what they write with their (massive) biases in mind, and to treat them accordingly.

One reason to know this is a partisan hack job is they don’t even mention that Democratic Delegate Chris Hurst argued for a similar constitutional amendment back in January.

It’s important to understand this was not a bill. It was a constitutional amendment. So it was a “statement.” A good ideal, but not a policy. It had no implementation. it didn’t raise a penny for schools. We Democrats have put far more money into schools and teachers than Republicans have, and we do so consistently. The same people that praise this constitutional amendment would be the first to complain if Virginia courts relied on this amendment to raise Virginia taxes without legislative approval to comply with its vague constitutional mandate.

If Republicans support higher taxes to fund our schools, they need to come right out and say so! And introduce a law to do it. And say exactly who they would tax to pay for it. Because all I see from them is tax cuts for jet owners and coal magnates and big business.

Everyone on the subcommittee which I chair, Ds and Rs, agreed to limit our constitutional amendments to two. And we Democrats jointly decided unanimously that (1) restoration of the right to vote for ex-felons and (2) marriage equality were two problems in our current constitution that needed immediate fixing. This was currently existing bad constitutional language that had to be removed. These were our priorities.

Republicans on the committee, incidentally, argued the most important issue was a constitutional amendment to limit the governor’s authority during an emergency. Not a single one spoke in favor of this constitutional amendment in place of that one.

In fact not a single person on the full committee — Simon (Chair), Price (Vice Chair), Sickles, Rasoul, Krizek, Levine, Adams, D.M., VanValkenburg, Convirs-Fowler, Reid, Askew, Simonds, Mundon King, Orrock, O’Quinn, Head, Rush, Adams, L.R., Bloxom, McGuire, Walker, Runion — argued this measure was more important than the two constitutional amendments Ds wanted or the one that R wanted.

We didn’t even have a single person from the public argue to us that this amendment was more important than the two we ended up submitting. And that includes the folks complaining here. There was a full hearing on Hurst’s amendment (which was simpler and better crafted). We spent much more time on that than Stanley’s. It had a handful of supporters.

I think we all knew it was a nice statement but it couldn’t really change anything without a mechanism to do so. And we treated Hurst equally to Stanley. In fact, Hurst’s amendment didn’t even get a vote because no one moved to report it. Any member of the full committee could have done so. None did. We also rejected a Rasoul constitutional amendment to allow 16 year olds to vote in local elections and several other amendments, including amendments to help veterans.

That doesn’t mean this amendment or any of these amendments were bad. Only that we agreed on a top two. I left the decision of whether to consider three or more up to the subcommittee which I chair. And after everyone else decided to leave it at two, I followed the will of the subcommittee. The Editorial writers should have watched the hearings themselves before complaining about what we did.

Now if it had a provision automatically raising Virginians’ taxes until schools reached a certain level, that would be a constitutional amendment with teeth! But no one has yet proposed that from either party.

Finally you should know that our funding formula already gives rural schools five times what Alexandria gets, even though Alexandria public schools have more than half our kids on free and reduced lunch due to living at or close to poverty. And sometimes rural schools have inadequate funding because they refuse to raise taxes on their wealthy landowners. There is no easy solution.

In sum, it was a constitutional statement that did nothing to resolve the real problem. Want better schools? Raise taxes. And make them more progressive. Why didn’t the editorial mention that?

P.S. Also note, as Del. Levine pointed out elsewhere, that there has “long been a massive subsidy from NOVA to SWVA,” and that the property tax RATES in NOVA (which help fund public education) are *much much* higher than in SWVA (e.g., “Wise County taxes its residents 69 cents for every $100 in property,” whereas “Alexandria taxes its residents $1.13 per $100” – huge difference).

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