What Next? Smarter Approaches to How We Tax and Spend
Tuesday’s election brought to mind the saying that people “behave wisely when they have exhausted all other resources.” Often we start out trusting, optimistic and hopeful, but when we are lied to and see that government is working against us instead of for us, when we realize those in power expect working people to live within their means while government seems to be oblivious to our challenges, that’s when we wake up.
I thoroughly enjoyed trading stories with my wife and son after spending a long day at the polls across the 33rd District. We listened to what folks said as they arrived to vote. The election results speak clearly as to what’s on people’s minds.
The American People know we’ve been fed some pretty big lies. We see wages staying flat as food, fuel, and utility costs creep higher. The federal behemoth has steamrolled our liberty and values in pursuit of some elitist vision of “social justice.” We were told that if we trusted government with our healthcare system we wouldn’t have higher taxes and premiums, and we’d be able to keep our doctor and our healthcare plan. Americans went to the polls and the results say it’s time to “behave more wisely.”
We need smarter approaches to how we tax and spend.
We need a government that protects our rights, not one that attempts to coerce us into their way of thinking.
Doubling down on taxes, spending, and regulation must stop. A successful household makes decisions that are careful to match spending with income and seek out value and solid results. This takes discipline and it works. It defers some things to free up resources for more immediate needs, and it makes for balanced and sustainable growth and improves quality of life.
Here’s how. For years in Virginia our education system has remained largely unchanged. Parents have few options due to a tax system that excludes alternative methods of education. Despite ever-growing per-pupil education spending that has almost tripled over the last three decades (inflation adjusted), test scores which measure what we get for that spending remain flat. Today’s high school seniors are no better off than those of their counterparts in the 1970s.
Big government favors less parental and local control. Parents and teachers cringe when their kids are forced to comply with rigorous SOL testing and when Washington reaches out to grab the wheel with a new (old) ploy in the form of Common Core. Our children’s public education is controlled from afar in an unprecedented way, and this is especially painful because, for most of us, realistic financial options don’t exist. Parents want what’s best for their kids. For some that means reaching outside the public school system, but until they regain control of their tax dollars, it’s not going to happen.
We must do better. I’m excited to share a program I’m working on to improve education in Virginia that accomplishes just that. Its a strategy that will give parents and students new schooling opportunities - and make their current options even better. A strategy that will actually work to free up MORE dollars at the local level for education spending. And the net cost to the state will be $0. Other states are enjoying these benefits and many more are preparing to do the same.
This coming session I am pursuing legislation that will start this process of expanding educational opportunities. We are still fine-tuning our legislation, but the goal is to support parents and bring them back into the education process on a state level. Instead of continuing the same old approach of spending more on a system that isn’t improving, we’ll let parents direct their children - and their education dollars - toward options that work better. The evidence shows that there is a huge potential for improved educational outcomes if we expand our focus beyond the public school system.
Education spending is the biggest single slice of Virginia’s budget (more than 30% of state spending); we need to get much better results without raising taxes. As Virginia catches up with other states that offer better education choices for parents and students, we’ll see real economic returns. We’ll improve our competitive standing for prospective workers and employers. And most importantly, we’ll do a better job of meeting the real needs of our kids and giving them the tools to succeed.
This session, Virginia will have a rare opportunity to bring true performance-based spending to education. For three decades we have tried the spend-more approach and it’s high time to look closely at this innovative and successful new approach. I hope I’ll have your support as I work to make it happen.