NOVA Republicans Oppose Education Cuts [Attn Fauquier, Warren]


RICHMOND Some Northern Virginia Republicans raised their eyebrows last week at Gov. Tim Kaines budget proposal, which would cut $5 million in funding for school construction projects in Fauquier, Frederick and Warren counties and the city of Winchester.

Virginias tax revenues have fallen short of projections because of the national economic downturn. So Kaine announced a plan to plug a $1.4 billion hole in the state budget. Among other items, his plan would cut about $220 million for school construction statewide.

Delegates Beverly Sherwood, R-Winchester, and Clifford Athey Jr., R-Front Royal, expressed disappointment with the governors proposal regarding educational funding. 

I am questioning Governor Kaines fiscal priorities as he promotes educational cuts that will negatively impact our local school divisions, Sherwood said. Sherwood represents part of Frederick County and the city of Winchester.

The governors plan includes a $55 million reduction in state support for K-12 school construction projects statewide for fiscal years 2009-2010. Kaine also recommended diverting to basic operations about $165 million in Virginia Lottery proceeds that school systems would have received for construction.

Athey, who chairs the Republican House Policy Committee, said he would not support that plan. 

I believe (Kaine) is playing politics with these proposed cuts to Fauquier, Frederick and Warren counties totaling over $5 million in less funding for our children, said Athey, who represents parts of those counties. I will work hard to reject his new spending programs.

Sherwood said the cuts would mean $2.4 million less for Frederick County and $680,000 less for Winchester city.

Kaine noted that schools were exempt from budget cuts during the first round of belt-tightening last fall.

We sought to minimize the impact of the cuts on services and balance the burden of the cuts, keeping in mind that some agencies made bigger reductions in the first round of cuts we made in October, the governor said in a written statement. 

His proposals include a cut in higher-education funding for the 2009-2010 budget and a cut in funding for all executive-branch agencies. The plan does not include tax increases. 

Kaine said he would let localities decide where the local cuts would fall.