Insult from Richmond
By Sharon Bulova, Corey A. Stewart and Scott K. York
Education is the silver bullet. Our children are our future. These are things we know intuitively, and in these uncertain economic times, we must continue to strengthen this foundation to ensure our economic recovery and success in a global marketplace.
As governments at every level face significant budget shortfalls, elected officials are wrestling with difficult decisions and painful cuts. In Northern Virginia, unfortunately, our challenge is exacerbated by a recent state budget proposal to freeze the local composite index (LCI) for K-12 education.
The LCI is the measure used to determine state and local shares of K-12 funding in Virginia. The formula uses data (growth in student population, local income, retail sales and property values) to determine a locality’s ability to pay for its schools. It is part of the routine distribution for education funding that occurs every two years. It has been in place for four decades.
Traditionally, the funding formulas disadvantage Northern Virginia, as revenue is redistributed to areas with fewer resources. This year, however, with property values plummeting and school enrollment growing, the formula would actually trigger an improved share of funding for Northern Virginia jurisdictions.
But in his final budget presentation in December, former governor Tim Kaine proposed freezing all Virginia localities at the previous LCI for one year. This move would cost Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun counties $118 million. Ironically, localities outside of Northern Virginia, whose comparative wealth increased, would get additional assistance.
Northern Virginia is proud to be the economic engine of the state. We put significant local dollars into K-12 because we know that our first-rate educational system is a key to our quality of life, bringing major Fortune 500 companies to our area, benefiting all. Our residents and businesses understand that maintaining excellence in our schools is a critical component needed to lead us out of this national recession.
A freeze in the LCI is patently arbitrary and an insult to our jurisdictions. We have played by the rules, and this unfair change would pull the rug out from under us at a time when we can afford it least. Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and the General Assembly must not allow this proposal to stand.
Sharon Bulova (D), Corey A. Stewart (R) and Scott K. York (I) are chairmen, respectively, of the boards of supervisors in Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun counties.
| January 31, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
Categories: HotTopic, Virginia, schools
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