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The issue of raising taxes has gone beyond the discussion stage.
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By RICHARD AMRHINE
It is the dedication of Virginia's ridiculously underpaid school teachers and administrators, their long hours and out-of-pocket spending on supplies, that help bridge the gap between mediocrity and real improvement.
Virginia's teachers, on average, made $40,000 last year, $3,000 below the national average. Is it acceptable that teachers who are retiring after 35-year careers never even reached the state average? How can we expect to keep decent teachers, especially in math and science, when they could make so much more in the private sector?
Of course teachers need to be held accountable no matter what they make, but who is holding the state accountable when it tries to "attract" new teachers with a starting salary of $28,000?
Those who think Virginia will be just fine without added revenues are refusing to face reality. A hefty increase in the tobacco tax would be a healthy start. A rollback in car-tax relief should also be on the table.
This General Assembly ought to do what's right for Virginia, and that may mean curing the taxaphobia that threatens the quality of life of all but the richest Virginians.
RICHARD AMRHINE is a writer and editor with The Free Lance-Star.