Northern Virginia pressures McDonnell on school funding
Northern Virginia officials are continuing to lobby Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) to oppose a freeze in 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 that would prove costly to the region's school systems.
McDonnell told reporters this week that he has yet to make a decision about whether to undo the freeze to the formula, which is used to determine how much of the costs of providing a basic education are shouldered by the state and how much is paid by local governments. He did note, however, that Kaine's plan is not being met "very warmly in Northern Virginia."
That's an understatement.
McDonnell, who has been on the job about three weeks, said he spends about half his time working on the state budget, though he has yet to offer recommendations for how to make up for a $2 billion budget shortfall.
"Obviously they're going to have to be some significant amount of cuts that people don't normally like to see cuts in -- health care, education,'' he said. "To get to $2 billion, there are going to have to be some adjustments in those areas. And we're spending hours and hours going through the budget in some detail to look at the best and fairest way we can make recommendations to the General Assembly."
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.
As we've explained before, 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 districts do 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 costs of education in places such as Loudoun, Prince William and Fairfax, and local governments in other places a bit less.
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, $22.6 million in Prince William. Other Northern Virginia jurisdictions lose out as well.
February 3, 2010; 7:30 AM ET
Categories: Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , Robert F. McDonnell , Timothy M. Kaine
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