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Taxophobes making us Bangladesh page 2
The issue of raising taxes has gone beyond the discussion stage.

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RICHARD AMRHINE
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Date published: 12/16/2002

By RICHARD AMRHINE

continued

Former delegate and newly elected Republican Sen. Jay O'Brien of Northern Virginia, an anti-tax stalwart, said he wouldn't expect the House to pass a tax increase in the next 10 years. He's convinced the gap can be closed with existing revenues by further cutting the budget.

Unfortunately, thinking like that is doing irreparable damage to Virginia. It's time that miserly Virginians--and boy, are there a lot of them--understand that decent government services don't come cheap.

Over the past two years, lawmakers like Chichester have cut through the fat, through the meat, and now they're being told to hack through the bone.

People who think there's always more room to cut must not have anything invested in state services, like a child in school or college or a mentally ill relative. Maybe they couldn't care less about the unemployed, the poverty-stricken, the disabled, or all the frail seniors on fixed incomes.

Maybe they've never been a victim of crime, and don't see the value of the 200 state troopers, who cost $70,000 each just to train and equip, needed to bring Virginia State Police ranks up to the bare minimum.

Perhaps they'd just as soon pave the Chesapeake Bay as save it, and are indifferent about an endangered creature because they personally wouldn't miss it if it were gone.

These people are apparently not embarrassed that although Virginia ranks in the low teens in wealth among the states, it ranks 45th in public-school funding. Hey, as long as we've got a couple of extra bucks in our pockets, who cares if we're sending poorly educated kids into an incredibly competitive world?

Well, woe is me, because I do.

Jean Bankos, president of the Virginia Education Association, calls education funding "the elephant in the room" at the upcoming General Assembly session. Of course, she's biased toward education because somebody has to be.

The General Assembly's own Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, or JLARC, found the state ought to increase education spending by some $560 million a year just to reach a minimum standard.

That students are slowly making progress toward achieving Virginia's Standards of Learning shouldn't be misinterpreted as a validation of current funding levels, but as success in spite of them.


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