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School funding bill shot down in House

SoVaNow.com / January 31, 2019
A bill by Del. James Edmunds to give Halifax County the option of a local sales tax to pay for a new high school suffered a major setback in the General Assembly on Wednesday.

Edmunds’ legislation, House Bill 1634, was defeated on an 11-9 vote by the House Finance Committee. Prior to the full committee action, it had gotten through the finance panel subcommittee by a 4-2 vote.

Edmunds said late Wednesday that he still has hopes for the bill, noting that he did not have a chance to speak to the finance panel prior to the vote earlier in the day. He said he would appeal to committee members to reverse their decision at their next meeting Friday.

“So, I haven’t given up yet,” Edmunds stated.

The bill is dead for the 2019 session unless it is revived by committee members.

Under Edmunds’ bill, Halifax County would be authorized to hold a voter referendum on a local sales tax, which if approved would be added onto the state’s 5.3 cent levy on retail purchases, excluding categories such as groceries, medications and vehicle purchases. The proposed tax would require voter approval before going into effect.

School officials asked Edmunds to introduce the legislation to give Halifax County a fresh source of revenue for a new HCHS facility, which is expected to cost in the neighborhood of $100 million. Virginia localities are barred under state law from levying their own sales taxes, unless authorized to do so by the legislature.

In 2011, the General Assembly gave Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads municipalities the right to impose local option sales taxes for transportation improvements, part of the that year’s transit package promoted and signed by then-Gov. Bob McDonnell.

County school officials suggested that to pay for a new high school, Halifax County could wage a 1-cent sales tax, which would raise an estimated $3.5 million annually — the bulk of the projected yearly debt service of $5.5 million for a new HCHS.

Without the option of a sales tax, Halifax would have to raise its real estate tax by as much as 21 cents to shoulder the full cost of borrowing for a new school.

Edmunds’ bill has received the support of the Halifax County School Board, Halifax County Board of Supervisors, the towns of South Boston and Halifax and other local governing boards and civic groups.

Last week, a contingent of local leaders, teachers and high school students spoke before the subcommittee to explain the need for a new HCHS facility.

The Finance Committee vote cut across party lines, with four Republicans and five Democrats voting in favor of the bill and a similar bipartisan bloc forming against it. Its prospects are highly uncertain in the state Senate, which historically has been reluctant to expand the taxing powers of localities.

Other efforts to increase state funding for local school construction remain alive in the Assembly, which has yet to reach the crossover deadline of Feb. 5. That’s when each chamber takes up legislation that has gotten through the other end of the Capitol.



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Comments

At least there aren't too many socialists in the House. lol

Comments

GOOD! The government needs to learn to live within its means like normal people. I am sick of people saying I complain with no solutions. I have solutions, it is just the people that don't pay any taxes want to steal from the people that do pay taxes. NO NEW SCHOOL!

Comments

And yet you have yet to enlighten us with your solutions and who does not pay taxes?

Comments

Property owners pay taxes. Those that don't own property pay a minimal amount in taxes. Solutions
1. Cut central staff by 10% 2. Cut central office certified pay by 20% 3. Cut all administrators by 10%, cut their pay by 10%
4. Stop free lunch for all, only for those that truly need it.
5. Stop dual bus routes
6. Stop giving SOL tests. Do you have any idea how much the state spend on those? millions!
7. Reinstate book rental fees.
8. Stop all these special projects
These are just for the school system. If I could go after the entire county with a red pen, I could cut taxes and repair the schools. We have too many people that want free stuff by other people paying for it.

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The biggest lie is that its is going to cost $100mil. One consutant provided this price based off Richmond area school for 3,000 students. Dont believe this lie of $100 mil.

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I was hoping you'd post some suggestions. 1.Cutting CO staff by 10% would be minimal 1-2 positions.
Cutting any pay is defeating all purposes when Halifax already lags way behind all surrounding counties.
The state has Standards of Quality quotas and it's 1 AP for every 400 students so we fall in line for that and receive some state funds for staffing.
The free lunch for all is irrelevant due to the fact that food services is separate from the schools and those funds can only be used for food service purposes and they avtually clear a profit by participating in the program.

Comments

SOL' are mandated by the VDOE and some type of testing is required by the federal government. If Halifax does not participate, we will lose state and federal funding, thus requiring the county to fund all education solely with local funds.
Text rental fees goes against the free public education and my guess would be that it's illegal or would be challenged in court. Some localities have done away with charging for student parking for same reason.
So in conclusion, you have solutions, but they hreak state/federal standards and would cost the county millions and millions in federal and state funding.

Comments

$88 million renovation is not the only alternative to a $99 million new construction. Maybe list improvements and then put it out for bids.

Comments

And a 2% increase in tax for the rest of your life, your children's lives, your grandchildren's lives is one of the dumbest things ever. A 7.3% sales tax is absolute lunacy in a state with income tax. What is wrong with you people? Really? You go to Richmond and beg them to tax you more. The only thing more insane than that is them not obliging your idiocy. You do realize there are states like Florida with zero state income tax and local sales tax rates ranging from 6% to 8.5%.

Comments

Its about time we stood up to the Feds. Hopefully in Trumps second term mandated testing will be a thing of the past. I love how you say minimal. Well if minimal was all across the board it would save money. Please explain to me how we are making a profit by paying a service to provide meals and then don't charge for them it is an expense. Anyway kids that can pay for their lunch should. School should not be a day care. Well I had to pay text book rental fees in school, so did my kids. There are still fees they collect so don't give me that free ed bs. Clouded you sound like a big government lib. socialist.


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