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.
With the GOP-controlled House continuing to ignore the ongoing unemployment crisis, more families are becoming homeless. The New York Times reports that's leading to a record-breaking number of public school students becoming homeless:
Nationally, the number of homeless students at public schools reached an all-time high after the recession hit. In the 2008-9 school year, there were 954,914 homeless students, compared with 679,724 in 2006-7, according to the latest data from the United States Department of Education.A friend who works in child & family services says becoming homeless can destroy the support systems most parents take for granted. "I have had several clients that have had to move overnight to other parts of the state to a different homeless shelter. It's terrible," she says. "I try to form relationships with these young girls, but before they know it their entire life changes and they lose important constant relationships like their teacher or counselor."
Homeless children fare significantly worse in school than other poor children. In Virginia, 21.2 percent of students who are homeless at some point during their high school years drop out, compared with 14.8 percent of all poor children, the state's Department of Education says. In Colorado, the high school graduation rate is 72 percent for all students, 59 percent for poor students and 48 percent for homeless students, according to data from the state's education Web site.