Cranky strikes again. John Butcher does another deep dive into Richmond Public School statistics, comparing the capital city’s school system with the schools in peer cities of Norfolk, Hampton and Newport News. Richmond spends $2,887 more per student than the state average, and it spends $1,659 more on instructional expenses. Yet somehow, the district supports fewer instructional positions per 100 students and pays teachers and principals less. And, as Butcher has amply demonstrated before, disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students in Richmond under-perform their disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged peers in other urban-core localities by wide margins.
How about the indignity of attending lousy schools? But never fear, Richmond school administrators are au current with the latest in politically correct virtue signaling. As reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond schools started requiring graduating students to wear gender-neutral gaps and gowns this year, ending a decades-long practice of having separate colors for men and women. Explained Superintendent Jason Kamras: “We want to make sure out transgender and nonbinary students don’t have to suffer the indignity of being forced to express their gender in a manner contrary to their identity.”
Big subsidies for big data. Virginia is home to 159 data centers that benefited from $417.5 million in sales-and-use tax exemptions from mid-2010 through mid-2017, according to estimates from a new Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission report. JLARC deems the state subsidies to have been “relatively effective” and generate “moderate economic benefits.” It is reasonable for the state to continue the exemption, concluded JLARC. However, the tax break does not appear to have stimulated growth in distressed areas.
Conversely, the report found, two tax credits — the Green Job Creation Tax Credit and the Biodiesel and Green diesel Fuels Producers Tax Credit — have low rates of utilization and little effect on the activity they were designed to encourage.
Milk Medicaid for Mental Health. The commonwealth allocated $356 million in discretionary funding to some 40 community service boards in Virginia that constitute the state’s public safety net provider for mental health and substance abuse. (Total CSB funding was $1.28 billion in FY 2018.) The CSBs could do a better job of maximizing Medicaid revenue (a larger share of which is funded by the federal government), according to a new JLARC study.
More Washington Metro fun and games. Washington Metro board Chairman Jack Evans engaged in multiple violations of the board’s ethics code, according to a law firm retained to investigate Evans. The chairman failed to disclose his $50,000 a year in a consulting contract with Colonial Parking even as he was “waging a campaign” against another company, Laz Parking, by repeatedly initiating investigations by Metro’s inspector general. Reports the Washington Post: Evans has announced he would not seek the chairmanship again after his term expires June 30.
But some good news for Metro, for once… Moody’s, the bond-rating agency, has upgraded the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority bonds by two notches from A2 to Aa3. An aa3 rating is considered “a high-quality rating subject to very low credit risk.” Moody’s cited the continued commitments from Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., to support the transit enterprise. Subsidies now cover more than half of WMATA’s operating costs.There are currently no comments highlighted.