It’s that time of year again. The General Assembly has just reconvened in Richmond. The capable delegation representing Fairfax County is working for our best interests — or is it?
Recently, I’ve heard a number of them promise to protect the Commonwealth’s General Fund from being used to pay for transportation projects. The General Fund (almost $17.18 billion dollars for FY 2013) pays for many things, the largest of which are: education, health and human resources and public safety. Non-General Fund revenues ($24.52 billion dollars for FY 2013) also pay for many things, the largest of which are: education, health and human resources and transportation. For the current fiscal year (2013), only $45 million of General Fund revenue was spent on transportation. Should more General Fund money be used for transportation?
From a Fairfax County resident’s perspective, I think the clear answer is “yes.” Using some General Fund money for transportation would help balance the unfair financial relationship Fairfax County has with the Commonwealth.
Fairfax County residents heavily contribute tax dollars to Richmond, but, in many areas, don’t get much back. For example, in FY 2011 (the latest available year), Fairfax County residents paid a whopping 23.4 percent of the entire Virginia Individual Income Tax. Yet we received a paltry 9.25 percent of the Standards of Quality (SOQ) state aid to K-12 education for the same time period. It’s clear Fairfax County income tax dollars help keep real estate taxes lower in much of the rest of the state, as we help pay for much of their public school expenses, and then we pay high real estate taxes to operate our public schools.
Sure, we get some benefits from other expenditures from the General Fund — Public Safety, Higher Education, Health Care (Medicaid). Also, as a wealthier locality, we cannot expect to break even. But does anyone think we get an overall fair deal from Richmond?
We are never going to be near to receiving a fair share of the tax dollars we send south, especially not for public schools. Therefore, shouldn’t our senators and delegates try to get some more of this revenue for transportation? Shouldn’t they be working to reduce the huge gap between what Fairfax County residents pay in state taxes and what we receive? Instead of complaining about the unfairness, our elected representatives should be trying to get transportation money from the General Fund. Senators and Delegates, please represent our interests, not those of the rest of the state.
Rob Jackson McLean