Gov. Mark Warner (D) plans to be in Arlington today. It’s part of a statewide tour to explain to community leaders and local officials what the new budget will mean for their communities. OK, but let’s call it what it is – a victory lap around the state. And as hard as he’s worked, he deserves it. But two quotes from yesterday’s first stop on the lap caught my attention:
“Virtually every component of the reform that we proposed back in November was part of the final compromise,” Warner told a supportive crowd outside the Roanoke Higher Education Center.
Give him credit for getting more revenue for sorely needed services. Give him credit for his political acumen and ability to build coalitions. But tax reform? When multi-millionaires pay the same percentage of their income in taxes as someone making $20,000 a year and the main method of raising revenue is to increase the regressive sales tax, we’ve still got a long way to go to reform Virginia taxes.
The governor also said, “My only concern is that we don’t end up having greater disparities, say between teachers in Northern Virginia and Southwest Virginia,” Warner said. “I think they [teachers] understand that this is a huge new investment and that they’ll fight that battle at the local level, but we do need to be concerned.”
The state should not subsidize disparities in school systems. But we need to remember the cost of living differences. Are Northern Virginia teachers earning less than their Southwest counterparts when that cost is factored in? I don’t know. But I wonder what percentage of teachers in some poorer counties can live in the county in which they teach: a feat many Fairfax County and Arlington County teachers can’t.
As a friend of mine says, too many politician hear trumpets whenever they enter a room.
“The leadership role that I’m taking on behalf of public education, mental health, and higher education has encouraged a lot of people to talk to me to pursue higher office,” Potts said. “I’m going to listen to people.”
FYI, here are the budget bill votes in the House and the Senate. The following delegates voted against the tax bill but for the budget, probably because they’ll want to claim credit for the new funds their localities get even though they did everything possible to prevent them from getting the funds:
And of course, Mr. Speaker!