To the Editor:
I grew up in Los Angeles, lived in Chicago and also New York. In each of these cities, there were always a myriad of new taxes and fees proposed with the promise of the resultant funds going to good causes - mostly schools. In these Democratic strongholds the taxes almost always passed. Unfortunately, the schools and other programs for which the funds were to be used never got better. In fact, over time the money got waylaid into other programs and activities for which it was not originally intended. It's safe to say that in these cities, many who can afford it, send their children to private schools - not a roaring endorsement of their public education. Now we want to do the same thing in Fairfax County. Based on my experience, here is what will
happen: At first everything will work as advertised but within a few years additional programs will be added to the schools based on these new funds. At the same time, politicians eyeing a windfall will start to divert those funds to other programs deemed important. We will then be informed that the meals tax will need to be raised because the schools don't have enough money. And over time property taxes will keep rising. The result will be higher taxes, a higher cost of living, and schools that we will be told are still desperately underfunded. Don't
take my word for it, check out these high tax cities that still have underperforming schools. Or just look at Maryland where taxes to date are higher than in Virginia but they are still constantly seeking new monies for schools and other programs.
The answer is not new taxes which will set a precedent for taxes on other goods or services, but rather politicians and heads of schools actually taking the responsibility to manage the funds that are available. This means having to make hard decisions. Do we need translation services into 20 some odd languages. Are expensive sports programs, language immersion programs, art programs, music programs, fancy technology, psychological programs, etc. all as important as teaching children english, math, science and history and paying teachers a decent wage? All of these programs are terrific but in a world in which we have finite funds we have to get back to prioritizing. Instead we expect government and schools to be all things to all people. An impossible task. Please vote "no" to the new meals tax and ask your school and government to better manage our existing revenue.