Cigarette taxes rarely yield projected revenues. A Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy study on cigarette taxes in Virginia has found: (1) cigarette taxes produce the most income the year they are imposed, then revenue declines in subsequent years; (2) over the long run, revenues rarely meet projections; and (3) convenience stores and small grocery stores don’t lose just cigarette sales when customers shop for better deals in neighboring jurisdictions, they lose the sale of incidentals. Conclusion: “Any short-term revenue gain often times comes at the expense of a long-term decline in sales and diminished economic activity.”
Baltimore, scandal and violence. The super-prosperous Washington metropolitan statistical area is flanked by two smaller MSAs: Baltimore to the north and Richmond to the south. The core jurisdictions of each, the City of Baltimore and the City of Richmond, have similar demographics and similar challenges with inner-city poverty. But crime-ridden Baltimore is losing population while Richmond, though hardly Nirvana, is gaining residents. The Washington Post profiles Baltimore in an article headlines, “Weary of scandal and violence, Baltimore residents ask: ‘Why do we stay?'” The last time the WaPo paid attention to Richmond was to highlight the police force’s success, one of the best in the nation, in closing out murder cases. The crime rate is a critical variable in inner-city revitalization.
Paying stipends to reduce teacher turnover. The Norfolk public school system has a problem similar to that of Richmond, Petersburg and other urban jurisdictions: high teacher turnover at schools in low-income neighborhoods. Last year, reports the Virginian-Pilot, 20% or more of the positions were vacant at the start and end of the spring semester last year sat several Norfolk schools This year, the school system is paying a $2,200 stipend to teachers who stick it out. “So far, it seems to be working,” concludes the Pilot. “Teacher vacancies are down at most of the hard-to-staff schools.”
More money for school counselors. Lawmakers have approved spending $12 million more next year to hire more school counselors. Legislation also calls for school counselors to spend more time with students and less on administrative duties by hiring new testing coordinators. The goal is to make schools safer by improving student access to mental and behavioral health resources. Of course, advocates of more spending didn’t get all they wanted, and they are sure to come back for more next session. If only there were some way to determine if hiring more counselors accomplishes anything useful. Are there any metrics to help lawmakers gauge effectiveness? Nothing that’s mentioned in this Richmond Times-Dispatch article. Many assertions but very little data.There are currently no comments highlighted.