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Northern Virginia pressures McDonnell on school funding

Anita Kumar

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.

In recent days, McDonnell has been sent letters from business groups, leaders Northern Virginia localities and Prince William County officials. Read the lettershere, here, here.

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.

By Anita Kumar  |  February 3, 2010; 7:30 AM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , Robert F. McDonnell , Timothy M. Kaine  
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Comments

"McConnell has yet to decide" ....

Oh shock. He can't decide on any budget items; he can't decide whether to sign an EO on anti-discrimination; he can't decide whether to freeze the funding composite; he can't decide whether he would sign the bill by the VA Senate on health reform.

The only thing that McConnell has been able to decide since he was sworn in was to do the GOP response to the SOU and that's not even an official role for Virginia.

I have no objection to McConnell doing the GOP response but given his indecision abilities it's fair to ask who wrote the darn thing.

No decision is easy for Gov. McConnell. In his defense, Virginians vote for small government and that's what he's giving them.

Should be about time for the governor to take a little vacation. He's got to be exhausted by now.

Posted by: James10 | February 3, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

Can you explain how it saves the state any money to freeze the LCI? If it's just a distribution formula, wouldn't the amount distributed remain the same? I *think* Kaine proposed freezing it so that poorer counties wouldn't face funding cuts, but I still don't know for sure, even after 4 or 5 blog/articles you've written. Thanks.

Posted by: filmjoy | February 3, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

"McConnell has yet to decide" ....

Oh shock. He can't decide on any budget items; he can't decide whether to sign an EO on anti-discrimination; he can't decide whether to freeze the funding composite; he can't decide whether he would sign the bill by the VA Senate on health reform.

The only thing that McConnell has been able to decide since he was sworn in was to do the GOP response to the SOU and that's not even an official role for Virginia.

I have no objection to McConnell doing the GOP response but given his indecision abilities it's fair to ask who wrote the darn thing.

No decision is easy for Gov. McConnell. In his defense, Virginians vote for small government and that's what he's giving them.

Should be about time for the governor to take a little vacation. He's got to be exhausted by now.

Posted by: James10 | February 3, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

___________________________________________


Yet something tells me you fully supported Obama's 3-month deliberation to send more troops to Afghanistan. Typical liberal hypocrite, nothing new there.


Posted by: savethepcbs | February 3, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm a veteran who has served my country with blood and taking 3 months on whether to send troops into a dangerous war zone in Afganistan is a lot harder decision than any Mcdonnell has. If McDonnell does what he said he would do, then state government should be downsized by the exact amount of the budget shortfall. Say what you'll do, and do what you say, or shut up and let someone else do the job.

Posted by: liveride | February 3, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Didn't he say he had it all figured out while campaigning? And, yes, adecision about sending troops in harms way deserves deliberate thought. Don't compare school spending with combat.

Posted by: jckdoors | February 3, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Yeah the LCI is a distribution formula, it determines how the pie is sliced (into 139 pieces of varying size). They can still adjust the size of the pie if they choose. With a huge budget shortfall due to the recession, that is certainly an option.

Posted by: blasmaic | February 3, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

James10, if you don't like Governor McDonnell or Virginia, why don't you head up to Maryland. O'Malley will charge you more, give you less so he can give it out to the illegals, and, if you're lucky, you'll be shot and killed by a vicious gang member! By the way, don't let the door bump your rear on the way out of here.

Posted by: panamajack | February 3, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

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