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McDonnell supports changing school funding

Anita Kumar

Gov. Bob McDonnell just announced that he will support unfreezing the adjustment to the school funding formula known as the local composite index, a change proposed by former Gov. Tim Kaine (D) in his final two-year budget.

"Ensuring that we have a fair formula that is implemented without regard to temporary or political considerations is the best means by which to appropriate education funding in the commonwealth,'' McDonnell said. "Every time the index is readjusted, some school systems gain funding while others receive less. This has occurred for nearly 40 years, and local officials understand the routine and objective biennial implementation of the index."

The update will cost the state $29 million in fiscal 2011. To pay for it, McDonnell will recommend to the General Assembly that $13 million be transferred from Literary Fund balances; $8 million through the use of available balances in the health insurance fund to reduce state health insurance premiums; $5.2 million in Real ID savings; and $3 million in additional non-general fund balances.

Kaine suggested freezing the composite index to save some money in the state budget. The change also would delay a cut in education spending in 97 of the state's least-wealthy counties.

The division between the state and local governments varies from place to place, using a formula that takes into account localities' wealth. Many Northern Virginians have long believed that the formula was unfair and resulted in the wealthy Washington suburbs shouldering far more of the costs of their local schools than in other parts of the state.

But now the economy has declined and Northern Virginia has lost a bit of its wealth. That will be reflected in the composite index, whenever it is recalculated. The result will be that the state picks up more of the expense of education in places such as Loudoun, Prince William and Fairfax counties.

Delaying the recalculation will put off that change, meaning local governments in Northern Virginia will pay more: $61 million in Fairfax, $34.4 million in Loudoun and $22.6 million in Prince William. Other Northern Virginia jurisdictions lose out as well.

By Anita Kumar  |  February 8, 2010; 4:18 PM ET
Categories:  !Elections , Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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