Virginia Education Plan Underwhelms

Marion Herbert's picture
Friday, December 23, 2011

With one hand, Gov. Bob McDonnell touted his plan this week to pump millions more dollars over the next two years into Virginia's K-12 education system. With the other, he proposed cutting millions of dollars that will leave holes in the budgets of school districts across the commonwealth.

The result, unfortunately, is a budget that fails to boost the quality of K-12 education in Virginia and, in fact, may ultimately undermine it.

McDonnell's decision to withhold inflationary adjustments for so-called "non-personal" education expenses, including school utilities and employee health care and student transportation, means localities will be forced to cover an extra $109 million over the next two years. Revising a formula that factors in federal funds will allow the state to save another $108 million.

For localities, those moves simply mean $217 million that had been expected for education won't be arriving next year. And they'll have to find a way to make it up.

McDonnell was quick to preempt claims that his budget gives short shrift to education, noting that Virginia's education spending has soared 41 percent in the past decade while enrollment increased just 6 percent. He also pointed to his proposal to add $438 million in new funds to education.

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