VEA Shows its Hand
teachers union wants it all: $1.5 million per
biennium from tax hikes plus the $1 billion a
year Gov. Warner claims he can save through greater
The Virginia Education Association was
obviously animated by my commentary last month
criticizing two members of the Virginia House of
Delegates for supporting a huge state tax increase
this year. The
teachers’ union circulated talking points to
encourage and guide responses to my column.
Had an elementary school student written
these talking points, he or she would have been
admonished for being non-responsive, but the VEA
doesn’t operate under the usual standard. Its talking points made no effort to address
the central point of my criticism.
The point of my column was that a tax
increase this year could not be justified if the $1
billion in spending reductions Gov. Mark R. Warner
has repeatedly claimed can be implemented are real. The two delegates, Chris Jones, R-
and Preston Bryant, R-Lynchburg, never bothered to
verify Warner’s claims. It’s time someone did.
As members of the House Appropriations
Committee, Jones and Bryant were well aware of these
voted for a House resolution asking the Governor to
provide information about the spending cuts he had
been claiming for more than a year to have
Warner failed to respond after two months, these two
delegates decided to organize a coalition of
delegates to push a tax increase that will cost
Virginians more than $1.5 billion over the next two
The overriding interest of the VEA is to
increase state funding for public education, not to
look out for the taxpayers or to worry about the
health of Virginia’s
has a right to pursue its agenda as aggressively as
it chooses, but it shouldn’t mislead.
Increasing the efficiency of state
government and spending $1 billion less each year as
a result are consistent with the VEA’s objective. Warner insists he can do this without cutting
is prompted to ask why the VEA wasn’t pushing for
immediate action on Warner’s proposed spending
all, the reduction in state spending achieved by the
streamlining that Warner claims can be implemented
could produce far more revenues than the $1.5
billion tax increase.
The math is too obvious to be missed, but
the VEA’s tactic has been simply to ignore
Warner's claim, hoping to get an immediate tax
increase plus the additional revenues from spending
cuts in the future. If
taxes can be raised now by $1.5 billion a biennium
and another $2 billion in revenues can be found
later through streamlining, there would be an
additional $3.5 billion – not a mere $1.5 billion
– for state government to spend every two years.
The VEA may not have an obligation to
watch out for the interests of Virginia
taxpayers, but members of the General Assembly do.
So does the Governor.
Taxpayers have a right to know whether
Warner’s claim that $1 billion can be cut out of
the budget each year is valid. The VEA and other proponents of the recent
tax hike don’t want that question to be raised. Instead, they want the public to believe
that, in the absence of that tax hike, vital
governmental services would have to be cut.
The issue is not what services tax
opponents would cut. We
don’t need to cut any services if Warner’s
efficiency claim is for real.
When will Warner be made to put up or shut
-- August 9,