by James A. Bacon
Responding to a Youngkin administration request for Virginia’s public colleges and universities to curb tuition increases, the University of Virginia Board of Visitors voted this morning to reduce a scheduled 3.7% tuition hike next year to 3.0%.
As explained by Chief Operating Officer J.J. Davis, the shaving of $5.5 million from the budget represents a “good faith” effort to comply with the administration’s request. But in response to a question, she acknowledged that it only “partially” complied.
“This is very late in the budgetary cycle,” which closes June 30, said former Rector and the board’s financial guru James Murray. “We’re supposed to have a budget number in March. It’s very difficult in this point the year to say, ‘Go find millions of dollars.'” He described the partial rollback as “a concession to political reality.”
In other business, the Board also approved a $5.4 billion operating budget for Fiscal 2023-24, which begins July 1. The budget encompasses the academic divisions of the University of Virginia main campus, the campus in Wise, and the UVa Health System. The UVa main campus operating budget amounts to nearly $2.3 billion.
To an outside observer, the proceedings were remarkable — for the lack of oversight. Board input into what is arguably the most important vote of the year was inconsequential. Aside from praise for the UVa financial staff and a few requests for clarifications, board members had little to say. They offered no substantive questions. They provided zero pushback. Continue reading →
Courtesy Wall Street Journal
by James C. Sherlock
The chart above shows that management and administrative overhead growth has been a trend not limited to government. The difference is that corporations are making quick and decisive strides in reversing the trend.
It is axiomatic that government should minimize overhead to maximize efficiency in delivery of services. And to lower its costs.
Efficiencies need to be found:
- to maximize value for citizens;
- to speed decision-making;
- to minimize administrative consumption of the time and attention of front line workers; and
- to restore freedom of speech suppressed by government bureaucracies assembled for that purpose.
All senior government managers would sign up for those goals — as theory. But execution is hard. Internal pressures against change are seldom exceeded by external ones that demand it.
An excellent report in the Wall Street Journal makes an observation that they may wish to consult for inspiration.
Companies are rethinking the value of many white-collar roles, in what some experts anticipate will be a permanent shift in labor demand that will disrupt the work life of millions of Americans whose jobs will be lost, diminished or revamped partly through the use of artificial intelligence.
‘We may be at the peak of the need for knowledge workers,’ said Atif Rafiq, a former chief digital officer at McDonald’s and Volvo. ‘We just need fewer people to do the same thing.’
Continue reading →
Clouds gather over Va Beach. (Bob Rayner)
by Kerry Dougherty
Do you mind if I’m brutally honest for a minute? Good. Because there’s no stopping me today.
Any member of the Virginia Beach City Council majority who voted Tuesday to approve an obscene $2.5 billion budget as the country teeters on the edge of a recession is a liar if they try to tell you they didn’t raise taxes.
I mean it. Join me in calling them LIARS.
While it’s true these politicians left the tax RATE alone, assessments jumped an average of 9%, with some of us seeing much sharper increases.
That means almost every homeowner in Virginia Beach just got a big fat tax hike. Combine that with an inflation rate of about 5%and the average working family trying to stay above water in the resort city is drowning.
Continue reading →
by Jon Baliles
Baseball season is in full swing and I have already been to three games to celebrate spring, sport, and sun. And because this is Richmond, I sometimes wonder how much longer I will be able to repeat this ritual in Aprils in the future. This week, the city announced it had reached final terms with developer RVA Diamond Partners to build a new stadium and the massive Diamond District project. But the news was something of a mixed bag for a variety of reasons.
Baseball is all about timing. When the pitcher starts his motion, when the batter cocks and decides whether to swing or not, and whether you can make contact. But after a few days of looking at the deal and reading about it, I realized something about the timing of it is off. This post is not a deep dive into the financials of the deal (that will come soon but not today).
Continue reading →
Christopher Newport University campus
by Dick Hall-Sizemore
Virginia colleges and universities are saying that they will have to raise tuition for the next school year unless the General Assembly gives them more money.
This is going to be fascinating to watch. Governor Youngkin has been able to get appointments to the boards of visitors, but not yet enough to constitute a majority for most. Most boards have three or four members whose terms expire June 30 of this year. With those appointments, some of the boards would have a majority of Youngkin appointees, but not all of them. Another factor is whether the current boards will wait for Youngkin to replace the members with expiring terms before taking action. After all, Democrats in the General Assembly have made it clear that there will be no action on any amendments to the budget until after the primaries in late June. The Virginia Tech board, for example, has scheduled a virtual meeting on April 21 to vote on tuition hikes (no public comment will be accepted). In any event, whenever the boards decide on tuition for next fall, it will be interesting to see how the Youngkin appointees vote. Continue reading →
Dionysos, god of the theater and of the grape harvest
by James C. Sherlock
The FY 2023 budget for Spotsylvania County was $341,355,792.
In increasing the 2022 budget, the Supervisors transferred an additional $5.8 million to schools to “Address the Commitment to Educational Opportunities.”
That brought the total transfer to schools to $138,081,416 including that $5.8 million (4.4%) increase.
It was pointed out offhandedly in that FY 2023 budget document that $5.65 million equated “to a little more than three pennies on the real estate tax rate.”
Most recently in FY 2021, the Schools were allocated ARPA funding in the amount of $22.68 million which Schools’ staff expects to be spent over three fiscal years (FY 2022, FY 2023, and FY 2024) to enhance the learning environment, enhance instructional planning, and enhance learning and growth.
But never mind.
Last night, in what Fox5 described as a “chaotic and disruptive” school board meeting, teeth were reportedly gnashed and garments rent over a potential, not yet an actual, reduction of $5.2 million in state funding for Spotsylvania County schools in FY 2024.
There were lots of interruptions and disagreement between the audience and school board members.
The festival at the school board meeting had an ancient Greek tone to it. Continue reading →
by Robin Beres
While mainstream media may be transfixed by the gutter politics going on in New York, exciting, uplifting events are happening in other parts of the nation — including in our very own little city of Hampton.
Located on Hampton’s Langley Air Force Base just off the Chesapeake Bay, the Langley Research Center is NASA’s oldest field center. Established in 1917, the 764-acre facility consists of nearly 200 separate facilities and employs around 3,400 civil servants and contractors.
In the early 1960s Langley was a top contender to be named NASA’s Mission Control Center for manned space flights. But because the Hampton facility was so close to Washington, and Hampton Roads was already home to both military and civilian aerospace and aviation communities, NASA selected Johnson Space Center in Houston over Langley.
Although missing out on the Manned Spacecraft Center, Langley has nonetheless continued to play a vital role in the research and training that has made every space mission from Gemini I to Artemis successful. The historic research facility has had countless scientific breakthroughs and historic firsts. The first crews of astronauts were trained there. Langley’s Rendezvous and Docking Simulator trained both Gemini and Apollo astronauts. It is where the Apollo Lunar Module was tested.
Scientists at the center were instrumental in the development of supersonic flight. Researchers there created the world’s first transonic wind tunnel and developed today’s international standard for grooved airport runways. And, if you saw the fabulous — and true — movie, Hidden Figures, you know that those incredible women worked at Langley.
Today, Langley is very much involved in NASA’s plans to put humans on the moon — and eventually on Mars. The space agency’s Moon to Mars program is no longer just a dream or a science fiction story in Popular Mechanics. The Artemis space program is moving rapidly forward on several goals which include putting a base on the moon and eventually landing humans on Mars.
Continue reading →
by James C. Sherlock
Crime, especially violent crime, is a constant topic in private conversations and in public politics, and thus here on Bacon’s Rebellion.
Comments on BR crime-related articles turn quickly to race, often without basis in fact.
I will offer below the actual crime statistics by race from 2021, the latest available year, in an attempt to cure that.
Then I will write about the causes.
I will almost certainly be called a racist. Continue reading →
Posted in Budgets, Children and families, Civil Rights, Crime , corrections and law enforcement, Culture wars, Democracy and Western Civilization, Demographics, Education (K-12), Efficiency in government, General Assembly, Governance, Government Oversight, Health Care, Housing, Land use & development, Law enforcement, Mental illness and substance abuse, Parental Rights, Politics, Public corruption, Public safety & health, Race and race relations
Tagged James Sherlock
by Shaun Kenney
Virginia’s General Assembly managed to pass the Richmond equivalent of a continuing resolution to fund the government until Senate Democrats and House Republicans can hammer out a compromise on corporate tax breaks.
One will have to pardon me for not getting terribly wound up about tax breaks for corporations while small businesses and working families are struggling with back-to-back years of 9 percent inflation from Washington.
Meanwhile, much of the damage done by the Northam administration with regard to Critical Race Theory, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) requirements, gender ideology, and the long litany of progressive efforts to remake Virginia were left both untouched and unchallenged.
Even school choice — the marquee legislation championed by Lt. Governor Winsome Sears — was left to die in committee.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are promising a “brick wall” against House Republicans until they get what they want — in other words, reneging on the pledge from conferees to honor a $950 million tax cut. The stopgap fixes the $200 million shortfall snafu created by the Virginia Department of Education’s spreadsheet, puts another $25 million into the Virginia Retirement System, and another $100 million towards cost overruns for existing building infrastructure. What mystifies most is that the Senate Democrats haven’t been precisely clear on what they want beyond platitudes for higher salaries for bureaucrats, public education, higher education, etc. Continue reading →
Posted in Budgets, Culture wars, Efficiency in government, Elections, Finance (government), General Assembly, Governance, Government workers and pensions, Leadership, Taxes, Uncategorized
Tagged Shaun Kenney
by Dick Hall-Sizemore
The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn on Saturday, February 25. Time to check on the status of some issues that have been discussed on this blog.
Budget bill. The budget bill contains not only the usual appropriations, but also all those tax cuts proposed by the Governor. There is activity behind the scenes, but, so far, no public hint that any sort of compromise is near.
Utility bills. One major utility regulation bill has been passed, but the others are in conference. I will defer to Steve Haner to comment on these as he deems fit.
SCC judgeships. Last year, the General Assembly could not agree on a person to fill a vacant SCC judgeship. The House supported one person; the Senate favored another. In late 2020, one of the two sitting judges, Judith Jagdmann, announced her retirement with a year left on her appointment. That left two vacancies, seeming to solve the problem: Each legislative house could have its own favorite. But, there was a fly in the ointment. ne vacancy, Jagdmann’s, was only for the year left on her term. The other vacancy was for a full six years. Who was going to get the short straw? Another impasse. Continue reading →
by James A. Bacon
The latest projections from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) indicate that, given continuation of current levels of taxation and programmatic spending, the U.S. budget deficit will be running at $2.3 trillion a year by 2033, driven in large part by a $1 trillion-a-year increase in interest payments on the national debt to $1.4 trillion a year.
As it happens, 2033 is just a couple of years away from 2035, the year that Social Security’s Old Age and Survivors Insurance trust fund is scheduled to run out of money and the payout will be limited to what the program brings in from payroll taxes, limiting the payout to 77% of what was promised.
What’s the most likely scenario in the early 2030s? Congress will borrow to sustain the full Social Security payments, adding to the deficit and accelerating growth in the national debt. This year the deficit will be about 4.3% of gross domestic product. By 2033, it will be 7.3% — and that’s before a Social Security bailout. Interest on the national debt, which cannot be cut without triggering a default, will amount to 3.6% of the entire economy. Continue reading →
We tried to tell everyone. Indexing the tax code for inflation is wildly popular, but it’s not in the pending package.
We have seen this before in Virginia and here we go again: the classic conflict between tax cuts for the many versus more government spending for a few.
The Republican-dominated House of Delegates has passed a series of broad tax reductions, while the Democratic-dominated Virginia Senate has killed its versions of the same bills. Last Sunday the Senate then produced a budget proposal about $1 billion richer in funds for education, mental health services and other poll-tested priorities.
Killing the tax bills creates even more revenue to spend in future years, billions more. Continue reading →
By Barbara Hollingsworth
Last week, the Republican majority in the Virginia House of Delegates passed a $1 billion package of tax cuts for individuals and businesses, the centerpiece of Governor Glenn Youngkin’s economic agenda. But Democrats, who have a 22-18 majority in the state Senate, have a laundry list of policies and programs they would prefer to spend the surplus money on rather than return it to taxpayers.
Tax policy is a non-partisan issue that has real-world economic consequences, especially when it comes to taxes on business income. Here are five reasons why the state Senate should follow the House’s lead and pass the governor’s entire tax relief package, including reduction of the commonwealth’s corporate income tax rate.
There’s a very large budget surplus.
In fact, Virginia is sitting on a record budget surplus of $3.6 billion, which is revenue collected from businesses and individual taxpayers in excess of the needs and priorities state legislators have already identified and fully funded during the 2022-2024 biennial budget process. It’s disingenuous to suggest that Virginia “can’t afford” to return at least part of that surplus to taxpayers. Continue reading →
Stephen Cummings, Va. Secretary of Finance
by Dick Hall-Sizemore
Governor Youngkin’s Lab School initiative is off to a fairly good start, although it is probably not progressing as quickly as he thought or hoped it would.
According to the Department of Education (DOE), the department has received two applications for the establishment of a lab school— from James Madison University and Southside Community College. In addition, it has received applications from 12 institutions for planning grants for lab schools. They are:
- University of Mary Washington
- Mountain Gateway Community College
- Old Dominion University
- George Mason University
- Virginia Commonwealth University
- University of Lynchburg
- Eastern Shore Community College
- New College Institute
- University of Virginia
- Germanna Community College
- Emory and Henry College
- Virginia State University
Continue reading →
By Chris Braunlich
On being told that peasants were starving for lack of bread, Marie Antoinette is reputed to have said “Let them eat cake.”
Marie Antoinette had nothing on Delegate Suhas Subramanyam.
At a House subcommittee meeting on Wednesday, Delegate Subramanyam was confronted with more than a dozen low-income families and Black community leaders demanding educational choices and opportunities for their children. Continue reading →