Beware Stalling Growth in Northern Virginia

northern virginia mapBy Peter Galuszka

For at least a half a century, Fairfax County, Alexandria and Arlington County have been a growth engine that that has reshaped how things are in the Greater Washington area as well as the Old Dominion.

But now, apparently for the first time ever, these Northern Virginia localities have stopped growing, according to an intriguing article in The Washington Post.

In 2013, the county saw 4,673 arrivals but in 2014 saw 7,518 departures. For the same time period, Alexandria saw 493 arrivals and then 887 departures. Arlington County showed 2,004 arrivals in 2013 followed by 1,520 departures last year.

The chief reason appears to be sequestration and the reduction of federal spending. According to a George Mason University study, federal spending in the area was $11 billion less  last year than in 2010. From 2013 to 2014, the area lost 10,800 federal jobs and more private sectors ones that worked on government contracts. Many of the cuts are in defense which is being squeezed after the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The most dramatic cuts appear to be in Fairfax which saw a huge burst of growth in 1970 when it had 450,000 people but has been slowing for the most part ever since. It still grew to 1.14 million people, but the negative growth last year is a vitally important trend.

Another reason for the drop offs is that residents are tired of the high cost and transit frustrations that living in Northern Virginia brings.

To be sure, Loudoun County still grew from 2013 to 2014, but the growth slowed last year from 8,904 newcomers in 2013 to 8,021 last year.

My takeaways are these:

  • The slowing growth in NOVA will likely put the brakes on Virginia’s move from being a “red” to a “blue” state. In 2010, Fairfax had become more diverse and older, with the county’s racial and ethnic minority population growing by 43 percent. This has been part of the reason why Virginia went for Barack Obama in the last two elections and has Democrats in the U.S. Senate and as governor. Will this trend change?
  • Economically, this is bad news for the rest of Virginia since NOVA is the economic engine for the state and pumps in plenty of tax revenues that end up being used in other regions. Usually, when people talk about Virginia out-migration, they mean people moving from the declining furniture and tobacco areas of Southside or the southwestern coalfields.
  • A shift in land use patterns and development is inevitable. The continued strong growth of an outer county like Loudoun suggests that suburban and exurban land use patterns, many of them wasteful, will continue there. The danger is that inner localities such as Fairfax, Arlington and Alexandria, will be stuck with more lower-income residents and deteriorating neighborhoods. The result will be that localities won’t have as much tax money to pay for better roads, schools and other services.
  • Virginia Republicans pay lip service to the evils of government spending and have championed sequestration. Well, look what a fine mess they have gotten us into.

The rest of the Washington area is seeing slowing growth, but appears to be better off. The District’s in-migration was cut in half from 2013 to 2014 but it is still on the plus side. Ditto Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties.

NOVA has benefited enormously from both federal spending and the rise of telecommunications and Web-based businesses. It is uncertain where federal spending might go and maybe increased private sector investment could mitigate the decline. Another bad sign came in 2012 when ExxonMobil announced it was moving its headquarters from Fairfax to Houston.

In any event, this is very bad news for NOVA.

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44 responses to “Beware Stalling Growth in Northern Virginia

  1. This is a good piece.

    Honestly, Virginia’s in approaching a “crisis” that’s going to be unlike anything we’ve seen in decades.

    I will say this: Thank God McAuliffe won in 2013. While he has a certain “sleeze factor”, I’ve been impressed that at least his team recognizes some of the faults in the state and at least toys around with things (transportation, economic developmet). Whereas, I suspect a Cuccinelli Administration would be approaching light speed in making Virginia another Arkansas or Mississippi.

    If you want to talk public policy, perhaps now is the time for us to reconsider the one term Governor? As the state approaches this crisis, it makes zero sense to keep changing executives every 4 years. We need some strategic planning and the opportunity for Governors to implement the strategic plan.

  2. very excellent article – and let me thrown this into the stew:

    Returning to the Exurbs: Rural Counties Are Fastest Growing

    The Great Recession stalled population growth in the exurbs. But new census data show that the far suburbs are enjoying a renaissance. They are now the fastest growing areas in the country

  3. re: ” Virginia Republicans pay lip service to the evils of government spending and have championed sequestration. Well, look what a fine mess they have gotten us into.”

    well they whine about the sequestration then they turn down 2 billion dollars and 30,000 jobs in health care – much of it in rural Va where it would be a significant boost to their economies from the multiplier effect.

    You can bet if the Govt offered 30,000 DOD jobs in South Central Va – that the GOP would be strutting their stuff – not a whimper about the impact to the budget.. just accolades from our Congress-critters patting themselves on their respective backs.

    The GOP has a belief system – “the free market” and of course DOD spending and rollback of regulations.

    anything that contradicts it – even if it is the reality – is not allowed.

    so 2 billion dollars and 30,000 jobs is – not allowed – because it violates their beliefs about “government” where DOD jobs are wonderful but health care jobs are budget-busting job killers…

    The thing about McAuliffe – he wants both.. he makes no ideological distinctions – he wants the money and jobs… and he don’t care if they are “blue” or “red”.

    The GOP are largely hypocrites on steroids these days.

    DOD is wonderful. Obamacare sucks. DOD provides jobs. Obamacare kills jobs. DOD has no impact on the budget. Obamacare produces unfunded liabilities.

    • You stole my thunder. All I can say is the Republicans are trying to turn Virginia into Mississippi, and will be very happy ‘there’ once it happens.

    • Oregon, with a managed care plan, expanded Medicaid and saw a 40% increase in ER visits despite promises from liberal Democrats that the opposite would occur. NC, under state governments run by both parties, twice had to cut state aid to K-12 education to pay for Medicaid cost increases.

      Show me the statutory language that prevents these results from happening in Virginia if Medicaid is expanded and that flows back all “savings” to the insured and taxpayers, and I will jump on the expansion bandwagon. Not a single Fairfax County Democratic delegate or senator will even answer the questions.

      Show me the language and I’ll join your side.

      • Saw your response, and did an internet search. You do not state the truth, to put it lightly:

        1. A study published in January 2014 (that is, before the impact of the ACA could be seen let alone be measured), Oregon’s experience was that newly enrolled Medicaid patients went to the emergency room 40 percent more than other people did, often for conditions that could easily have been treated by a family doctor. That BTW is NOT an increase of 40% due to the ACA.

        2. As of October 2014, they were still in the stage of gathering data to determine whether the experience of OR would be similar to that of CA.

        The link is below:

        • Sorry but you are wrong again. The study showed Oregon residents newly covered by Medicaid used the ER 40% more than the uninsured. The study did not compare the newly covered to the general public.

          Senator Barbara Favola has said on numerous occasions that expanding Medicaid would result in the newly insured making fewer ER trips than they did before they had coverage. The Oregon study proves her (and others wrong). But she’s not alone. The Times reports Obama’s false claim. “In remarks in New Mexico in 2009, Mr. Obama said: ‘I think that it’s very important that we provide coverage for all people because if everybody’s got coverage, then they’re not going to the emergency room for treatment.’”

        • I will not engage in an endless round. To quote from the NYT link you have, dated 1/2/2014 which is before the ACA: “Those who gained coverage made 40 percent more visits to the emergency room than their uninsured counterparts during their first 18 months with insurance.”

          It seems to me that we are agreeing violently. The most important thing is that you have proven nothing as far as the ACA is concerned. That is the common thread with all ‘attacks’ against the ACA by the way: much hot air that is not based on any fact.

          • virginiagal2

            Not attacking the ACA, but the Oregon experience was that utilization was higher than anticipated, and that there was more, not less, use of emergency rooms by the insured.

            It does have parallels to ACA. I’m not attacking ACA, or the Oregon law for that matter (I have a dear friend who is probably alive b/c of the Oregon law) but it did result in the anticipated decrease in ER visits.

            We need to be clear eyed on the actual outcomes of policies, not believe what supports our preferences.

          • virginiagal2

            Excuse me – did NOT result in the anticipated reduction in ER visits.

            Typo, but it totally changed the meaning of my sentence.

        • The data I’ve seen indicates that actual visits do increase, as does total health care expenditures.

          The Oregon Medicaid program has parallels to the ACA, in that it made coverage widely available to those who had not previously had coverage.

      • TMT – haven’t I provided you with that Colorado Study? Have you read it?

        why will the expansion not cost?

        Because it is already paid for with taxes that Virginians are already paying.

        I provided you also with that list of taxes. Did you read it?

        the money does not come from general revenues – it comes from earmarked taxes .

        so you need to fess up here. are you reading the provided info?

      • Executive Summary

         The Medicaid proportion of patient volume at hospitals in states that expanded Medicaid increased substantially in the first quarter of 2014. At the same time, the proportion of self-pay and overall charity care declined in expansion-state hospitals.

         Medicaid, self-pay and charity care showed no change outside normal variation for hospitals in non-expansion states in 2014.

         The increase in Medicaid volume, which occurred only in expansion states, is due to Medicaid expansion. The parallel decrease in self-pay and charity care shows that previously uninsured patients are now enrolled in Medicaid.

        The changes seen here are not only distinct, but also substantial. The Medicaid proportion of total charges increased over three percentage points to 18.8 percent in 2014 from 15.3 percent in 2013, representing a 29 percent growth in the volume of Medicaid charges. When compared to the first quarter of 2013, there was a 30 percent drop in average charity care per hospital across expansion states, to $1.9 million from $2.8 million. Similarly, total self-pay charges declined 25 percent in expansion states, bringing its proportion of total charges down to 3.1 percent from 4.7 percent. In contrast, the proportion of Medicare volume shows little variation through first quarter 2014

        read the report

  4. The other big thing happening in NoVA right now is that ExxonMobil is relocating to Houston. INOVA to take over site for medical expansion. Let’s face it, health care is becoming a main “industry” in the USA.

    I feel tax policy and higher taxes in NOVA are part of problem. For example, we have a nutty car tax in NOVA which can amount to 25-30% of the value of a new car (which is semi-subsidized by the state, I know). People move here with average cost ($32000) new cars can easily get clobbered with >$1000 per year per car taxes.

    Keeping elec costs reasonable in VA is one good thing we should try to maintain.

    • I know that taxes are a republican/conservative whine. But that is inaccurate: NoVa, despite the car tax etc is the economic engine of the whole state. The parts of the state that subscribe to the low, or no, tax mantra are bankrupt. They subsist based on what the state collects from NoVa and spends there. It takes $$$ to have growth: money for infrastructure and for an educated workforce. Mass. and California are prospering, even though they have high taxes. That’s because they also have an educated workforce that attracts investment. And those investments do not pay minimum wage with no benefits, either. If that’s what you want, go to TX!

      • Actually MA and CA are not doing as well as you think – they’re hollowing out in the middle. They are not a model I would want to use. In CA in particular (the one I’ve seen more numbers for) you have a leap in number of people in poverty, a huge drop in affordability, real issues with taxes and regs, and a large exodus of the middle class.

        IIRC, and I am going by memory, Texas has actually been relatively strong recently in creating middle class jobs – strong than CA – and with stronger increases in education. Austin is also turning into a tech hub, as is Houston, again, IIRC.

        I’ve seen the relative performance of the two states used as an argument for being cautious about taxation and regulation, because there appears to be a tipping point where it starts to disproportionately affect the middle class and impact business health.

        • I did not claim that CA and MA are doing great. But I would prefer for Virginia to have the types of problems, and especially potential, that they have as compared to Texas or Mississippi.

          • virginiagal2

            FWIW, given that TX is doing better than either CA or MA, it’s probably a better place to look for ideas. I would not want to adopt either wholesale, but it makes sense to pick the best from both.

            CA has a cluster of very rich people, rather than generalized prosperity. On most measures, we’re doing better than CA, not worse.

      • Shenandoah- I am not arguing for tax reduction. I am saying our NoVA structure of taxes with a “super-tax” on cars hurts our economy (car sales business) and is one of the unpleasant “gotcha” things about NoVA that tends to drive people away. Redesign tax system more like Maine for example has a fairly high local car tax but it is less onerous. I also feel NoVA may be paying more than fair share but average state-wide tax burden is not too bad. If I could I’d add to gaso tax in NoVA over taxing the dickens out of cars.

    • The big problems are there is no growth in the highest income jobs and lots of growth in low-income jobs. More wealthier people are leaving NoVA than are moving in. And Fairfax County, by closing its eyes to the Occupancy Codes, is seeing multiple poor families with substantial needs for school and social services living in illegal boarding houses. We are far from tipping from a wealthy county to a poor one, but the trend is for a poorer Fairfax County. Whose gonna support the rest of Virginia?

    • re: ” I feel tax policy and higher taxes in NOVA are part of problem. For example, we have a nutty car tax in NOVA which can amount to 25-30% of the value of a new car (which is semi-subsidized by the state, I know). People move here with average cost ($32000) new cars can easily get clobbered with >$1000 per year per car taxes.”

      ditto in Spotsylvania to the South. If you get a new car – you are socked with the sales tax then you are socked with the county tax – and that goes on.

      And for the most part – hardly a penny of this is spent on transportation – even as they cry about the lack of funding for transportation.

      I think VDOT should go to a cost-match for all projects. They’ll kick in half – and the project gets fully funded when the county kicks in half.

      we have made transportation and education mortal enemies in funding priorities.

      Virtually every county in Va – spends more, far, far MORE on education funding than the state requires. This is local discretionary funding – and in most counties it sucks up every penny of the car tax.

  5. Might be a little soon to start planning on shutting down roads or closing any schools up there in NOVA-land. The trend might reverse, especially in defense spending. Events could force such a change. But the spending pattern may change, with fewer dollars flowing to the beltway consulting firms and more dollars to weapons and warfighters. Wouldn’t that be novel. The defense biz is like all the others, trying hard to hold down personnel costs and overhead and moving rapidly into the digital age. Cancelling a consultant is politically far easier than closing a base.

    I don’t foresee any major political ramifications for a while. Virginia is as purple as purple can be, so the slowdown in Northern VA likely will stall things where they are. The demographic trends that you note are no longer confined to that region. Read the story in the TD this morning about the growing Hispanic populations in Richmond-area schools.

    Blame the federal slowdown on sequestration if you want, but it is equally valid to blame it on the explosion of direct cash entitlements and health care benefits, which leave the Congress with the unhappy choices of raising taxes, cutting the 1/3 of the budget considered discretionary, or deeper deficits. Spend more than you take in and eventually something has to give.

    • “But the spending pattern may change, with fewer dollars flowing to the beltway consulting firms and more dollars to weapons and warfighters. Wouldn’t that be novel.”

      You misunderstand the purpose filled by the ‘beltway consulting firms’: Whenever you spend money you need to have oversight of the decisions on how to spend it as well over the spending itself. That is what the ‘beltway consulting firms’ provide. Now if you REALLY want to save money, and being a ‘beltway consultant’ I almost shudder to utter it: make the ‘beltway consulting firms’ part of the government. They really are not ‘private industry’ anyway. For that matter, most of the vendors, even Boeing, Lockheed, etc are not that private, anyway.

      • the beltway consultants ARE part of the govt. You have to understand – when a weapon system is developed – it is almost totally done so by the private sector – the govt does not build weapon systems.

    • Excessive fixed benefit retirement plans are helping to pull state and local government down. Look at California. There is no more middle class. The State cannot afford infrastructure costs because of the costs for maintaining government employees.

      A consulting firm found Fairfax County (not the Schools) pay, benefits and retirement to be well above the market, including the private sector.

      • California can’t afford infrastructure costs because the anti-tax knuckle draggers out there decided to kneecap the state’s ability to raise revenue in 1978.

        “Excessive fixed benefit retirement plans…”

        Who are you to decide what’s excessive? Localities and states signed these contracts with open eyes as a way to offset current pay. If they didn’t want to pony up for retirement promises they shouldn’t have offered packages in the hope people would leave for another job before they did their time. These retirement plans are what they people who worked for them are owed.

        “There is no more middle class.”

        I was unaware the middle class was a part of the state’s infrastructure. Nice boogeyman, though, just throw everything together. Oooogity boogity! Excessive retirements! Crumbling infrastructure! Middle class! And it’s all the fault of those dastardly government workers we negotiated with and signed contracts for their labor! Did you know that a California transit worker once tied a damsel to some railroad tracks?!

        I’m surprised you didn’t find an excuse to shoehorn in another tedious reference to Oregon.

        Plot twist: the reason the middle class is deteriorating is because businesses have decided they no longer have to pay middle class wages and there are no unions or politicians to make them do so.

        • Virginia has relatively modest pensions and salaries for state workers, and for most local workers. A number of other states and localities (NYC comes to mind) have real problems with salaries and pensions that are, bluntly, kind of ridiculous.

          In states where salaries are extremely high, and pensions are extremely generous, there are problems with how you’re going to actually pay those pensions. We have people moving to Virginia, retiring on six figure NYC pensions at relatively young ages – I’ve met some of them. That’s not sustainable.

          I don’t think Virginia does that. COVA pension benefits are fixed, but relatively modest.

          • Cville Resident

            I agree. Especially with the reforms that were recently enacted at VRS. Virginia’s got a lot of problems, but VRS’s benefits don’t strike me as excessive or “busting the bank.” As I understand it, with the new plan, it’s basically 1% of your salary per year. So, if I retired with 35 years of service and my highest 3 years averaged to 80K, the “fixed” portion of the pension would be 28K per year. That doesn’t sound like highway robbery to me.

    • more weapons system money – goes to the contractors…

  6. It’s OK — we can just keep cramming more kids into Fairfax County classrooms. We won’t need to pay teachers because they’ll all leave. The Chamber of Commerce can get its way, not realizing that it’s going to watch its workforce go through a brain drain.

    Yay, short-term thinking!

  7. health care = jobs. Medicare = jobs. Military TRICARE = jobs.

    MedicAid = jobs.

    The MedicAid expansion is funded by earmarked taxes and reductions in tax-free health and retirement tax breaks.

    An example is the reduction of medical deductions from 7.5% over AGI to 10% over AGI or the repeal of the provision that allowed HSA money to be used for over-the-counter products or taxes on medical appliances… etc.

    it functions much like the gas tax. You purchase fuel – you pay a tax. You buy an airline ticket – there’s a Federal fee that goes to fund airports. The Pension Benefit Guarantee agency is 100% funded by fees on pension plans.

    and one more time for TMT –

    it’s NOT just ER visits.. it’s soup-to-nuts CHARITY care at the hospital for all kinds of advanced diseases that people show up with in the later stages because they did not see a primary care doctor until they got seriously sick – showed up at the ER – and got admitted to the hospital for a triple bypass or similar – and

    .. You and I pay for this.

    I have to say – not understanding this – the difference between catching disease early and treating it for a hell of a lot less money that waiting until it is advanced – is not smart.

    It’s like we don’t want to know more than just the ER metric.

    the reality is – when people do not get periodic primary care – they get diseases that advance – undetected – then they get admitted…

    but the most important point here is not the ER metric – it’s the fact that we pay when people do not go to a doctor and get an advanced disease.

    It’s one of the reasons why we spend twice as much on health care in this country.

    Do we really want to deal with the realities? do we want to deal with the truth?

    or do we want to pretend something different from the realities.?

    this is silly.

    we do not turn people away – we treat them – and we pay to treat them – and if they delay going to the doctor and get a terrible disease – WE StILL PAY – the main difference is we pay MORE!

    how hard is this to understand?

    • Larry, we actually do turn people away – the law for mandated treatment is for emergency treatment and stabilization. It is NOT for all needed health care.

      Currently, uninsured people do not get all of their health care needs met, regardless of ability to pay. They get emergency care if they show up in an ER, and the rest is kind of hit and miss, with more miss than hit.

      Covering their non-emergent health care needs does result in an actual increase in utilization and an actual increase in health care expenditures, even when you account for savings by treating earlier.

      If we’re figuring the cost of universal health care, we need to be accurate. It is designed to increase utilization by providing additional services to those that previously did not get them – needed services that are not legally mandated for the provider.

      • it’s for care to keep them alive – right?

        and it includes very expensive care like heart bypasses, kidney dialysis, etc.

        if their life is in danger – they ARE admitted and they ARE treated – and it is paid for by taxpayers and insured.

        Virginiagal2 – re utilization.

        every kind of insurance – from private to medicare to medicaid to employer-provided – to ObamaCare – limits utilization per their rules.

        you do not ever provide any and all – under any of these various kinds of insurance – even for some life-threatening diseases and illnesses.

        For instance, Medicare will not pay for certain procedures for folks over a certain age.

        private insurance will not pay for procedures and drugs for lesser known diseases that have very high costs.

        so you CONTROL utilization by your rules – just like they do now .

        Medicare will not pay for long term care nor dental, nor optical nor hearing aids – and restricts payments for a wide variety of things some people consider “needs”.

        If you go into a nursing home and don’t have long term care – Medicare will not pay – and many of us – then rely on the state to use MedicAid funds to pay for a parent – even though the parent has assets like a home -we still expect the state to help pay.

        so the medicaid expansion is NOT about any/all care but it IS based on the standard of care – regardless of whether you are insured or not.

        If someone needs a bypass -it’s done – and who pays is figured out later

        If someone wants a boob enlargement – no dice.

        but someone who has a disease that can advance to catastrophic cardiovascular damage – and does – they will be treated with the same standard of care as others.

        • I’m not talking about Medicaid. You were discussing mandated care required for the uninsured and appeared to be saying that Medicaid covers about the same things. That’s not correct. Medicaid, or any ACA compliant insurance, covers a great deal more.

          The mandate for emergency care is not “care necessary to keep them alive.” It’s to stabilize them. So if you come in with cancer, you don’t get chemo through the mandate. You get stabilized and discharged.

  8. re: VRS pensions….

    they are typically fairly modest – far less than Federal Govt pensions which in my experience doing volunteer taxes is 10K more and up. These are, by the way, for TMT’s benefit under the old CRS retirement system – not the FERS – which was instituted in 1986 and we’ll start seeing more of them from now on. FERs is 3-legged – the govt part, social security and TSP (401k).

    but with VRS – a lot of folks miss this :

    Social Security can be taxed – and is – depending on the rest of your income.

    And if you get a 30K VRS pension – you’re going to pay some tax on any Social Security you might have. It won’t be 100% – it’s currently capped at 85% and at the 30K level – I think it’s less than 50% ( there are calculators).

    if you don’t think it matters – it does. 10% tax on $5000 is $500 – that’s money you’ll owe at tax time if you don’t have it deducted ahead of time.

    • Larry, Fairfax County’s pensions for non-teachers greatly exceed a comparable VRS pension and county teachers receive not only the VRS pension, but also a supplemental county pension. It simply isn’t sustainable over the long run and is contributing to the potential loss of Fairfax County’s AAA bond rating.

      • TMT – the rules have changed so that the county has to pick up the VRS costs.

        The AAA rating is interesting. Up until recently it did not include long-term retirement costs but now it does but the rating agencies base their ratings
        on the ABILITY and INTENT of the county to pay these costs and as long as they do – they keep their rating.

        So, in other words – both Fairfax and the credit agencies – so far – think Fairfax will pay… and will tax to pay.


        I guess when I see an uprising in Fairfax and BOS thrown out of office for the tax rate – I’ll then believe it.

  9. Spotsy is lusting after a AAA rating and Davenport has told them that the key to AAA is to have diverse, flexible and robust sources of revenues…

    In other words – it’s not the spending – it’s your ability to pay for the spending ….

  10. re: ” Larry, Fairfax County’s pensions for non-teachers greatly exceed a comparable VRS pension and county teachers receive not only the VRS pension, but also a supplemental county pension.”

    I’ve noticed in my travels through Virginia – a certain dispersion of retired folks living in rural areas – were they can afford a lot more house, make their pensions money go further – and in general escape from the congestion hell-hole known as NoVa.

    We have retired folks building 500K and up houses down our way . These are not rich folks but retired govt – often DOD. 500k down our way is about 3 times the house than what 500K would buy in NoVa – and so – they sell their home in NoVa – use part of it for their 500K home in Spotsy and pocket the rest..

    further out is even better – you can buy a farm with a pond and a 500K home but some want to stay close enough to NoVa to be near their kids and/or near the other amenities that NoVa offers.

    The taxes on their 500K homes are chump change compared to NoVa taxes!

  11. Looks like I’m late to this conversation.

    But getting back to Peter’s post…. All is happening as I have foreseen.

    None of the developments in Northern Virginia he describes is a surprise to anyone who has been following this blog.

    • You absolutely have been calling this for a while.

      Mark my words….just as you called the unsustainable land use practices in NoVa….my prediction about a coming crisis with rural Virginia will land on our door steps in about 5 to 10 years (depending on the next deep recession).

      You simply can’t have a state where west of Chesterfield and south of 64 continues to drain resources from the Urban Crescent as the Urban Crescent develops its own set of fiscal problems. At some point, those Urban Crescent folks will rise up and demand that they quit subsidizing the rural portion of the state. I think it will come when the D’s wise up and start using it as a serious issue to take control of the House and Senate in VA. Mark my words, it will get ugly.

  12. The slowdown will be good for NoVa. Richmond’s approach to simultaneously milking and starving the residents of NoVa needed to end. People are voting with their feet. The private sector is picking up most of the sequestration slowdown but not all of it. For example, Apple just bought Fairfax County based database company FoundationDB. AppAssure, ComScore, MicroStrategy, Back Office Associates and other tech companies in NoVa keep rolling along.

    It’s been obvious to me for years that raising additional taxes in NoVa meant absolutely nothing with regard to better transportation. Now that former governor and his wife are awaiting their incarceration dates the reason that the money just disappears becomes more and more obvious. Raising taxes in NoVa just gives the thieves in Richmond license to hand out random tax breaks to friends and family. Fewer people, fewer taxes, fewer tax breaks to hand out, fewer gifts for the members of The Imperial Clown show in Richmond. All fine by me. Will my house lose value? Probably. However, I’d rather have less equity and get robbed less than the reverse.

    The NoVa land use red herring has raised it head again here I see. Try this experiment – close you eyes and ask a friend to drive you to any suburb of any (once) fast growing American city. Try Austin, Silicon Valley, Atlanta. Now, open your eyes. Guess what? They all look the same. You don’t even have to go that far. Open your eyes in most of Henrico County and tell me what you see.

    The most interesting question will be asked of the Fairfax BoS. Fewer people = reduced demand for real estate = lower prices = falling assessments. Does the BoS just keep hiking up the tax rate to keep the same number of dollars flowing? That’s one way to guarantee a bigger exodus. Or, does the BoS tighten its belt and hold the line on tax rate increases?

    The second most interesting question will be asked of the Clown Show. What do they do when the flow of money out of NoVa to RoVa slows? Does the Clown Show ask the residents of Hooterville to raise their own tax rates to pay for the schools or do they concoct some half assed heist to keep pulling money out of NoVa? The latter will speed the decline.

    Our stupid assed state government has dug itself a nice deep hole with $15B per year of never ending industry-specific and company-specific tax breaks. They may have to start giving back all those Rolexes and Redskins tickets.

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