Tag Archives: Guest Contributor

EPA Told CVOW Wake Has Air Quality Impacts

One of two dead whales washed onto Virginia Beach so far this month, just onshore from the CVOW project. WAVY reports on it.

By David Wojick

In formal comments, the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) has asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to assess the adverse impact of the giant Virginia offshore wind project on air and water quality. The issue is far-reaching because all big offshore wind facilities could have these adverse effects. Continue reading

Metro is at the Precipice. Declare Bankruptcy.

Recent ridership figures for Metro. Source: WMATA Click for larger view.

By Derrick Max

Tuesday, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) warned that without substantially greater subsidies from DC, Maryland, and Virginia, they would be facing a $750 million annual shortfall that would require draconian cuts in services, including closing 10 stations, cutting 67 bus lines, and laying off 2,000 employees.  They would also freeze salaries, raise fares and parking fees, reduce bus and train frequency, and close all stations at 10 p.m.

The threat of such cuts was meant to be a bargaining chip for more funding rather than a true plan to save WMATA, as any such cuts would just accelerate, not slow, the demise of WMATA.  It is time for Governor Youngkin and the two other regional funders, all of whom are facing reduced federal aid in their own budgets, to seriously consider forcing WMATA into bankruptcy.  And if WMATA’s unique structure as a bi-state compact agency makes it ineligible for Chapter 9 bankruptcy — a complete restructuring and rethinking of WMATA along a similar line as Chapter 9 bankruptcy are in order.

The truth is that bankruptcy is not a new idea.  In 2016, WMATA hired one of the nation’s top bankruptcy lawyers, Kevyn D. Orr, to advise the agency on fixing its troubled finances.  At the time, WMATA had a $1.8 billion operating deficit (a loss of over 200 percent of operating revenue) with $917 million in long-term debt (not counting pension and other benefit liabilities).  The hope was that Mr. Orr’s expertise would help WMATA restructure its debt without resorting to bankruptcy, take a tougher line on labor negotiations, and wrest more money from the three Washington-area funding jurisdictions.  Sadly, whatever reforms were implemented have had little, if any, impact on WMATA’s financial situation today. Continue reading

Poor Test Results No Problem If You Ignore Them

By Nancy Almasi

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns had a real and persistent impact on our children’s education. Learning loss continues to be the subject of daily news reports, with SAT and ACT test scores at an all-time low. Overall, math and reading scores on standardized tests are at their lowest level in decades and the college admissions process was thrown into a tailspin when lockdown regulations made taking the traditional SAT and ACT tests difficult. Continue reading

Voters Will Decide Virginia’s Future Direction

by Derrick Max

In two weeks, the people of Virginia will decide on two competing visions for the future of Virginia. Will they elect a General Assembly favoring Governor Glenn Youngkin’s more freedom-oriented policy vision, or will they elect a General Assembly returning the Commonwealth to the statist policy vision of former governors Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam?

While much of the current debate in the Commonwealth has focused almost solely on abortion, the number of issues “on the ballot” in this election is much broader and ought to be more closely considered by voters. If readers want a deeper dive into these issues, links to the Thomas Jefferson Institute’s work in these areas are included.

Surpluses are on the ballot in Virginia.

Earlier this year, faced with an historic $5.1 billion surplus, Governor Youngkin and Democrats in the Virginia Senate reached a deal to cut $1.05 billion in taxes and allocate $3.7 billion in new, one-time spending. This $3 in new spending for every $1 in tax cuts is backward.

Budget officials in Virginia just reported that in the first quarter of this fiscal year, surpluses are continuing to be amassed in Richmond. Coupled with the official projections for spending and revenue for the next few years, the next General Assembly will almost certainly be faced with large cash surpluses. Continue reading

Local Government Unions Raise Your Taxes

By Chris Braunlich

Subscribers to Netflix will soon see rate increases because of the Screen Actors Guild-AFTRA Hollywood strikes.  Buyers of new and used cars will, as a result of the United Auto Workers strike, see prices go up as supply dwindles and costs rise.

The current spate of labor actions – involving more than 420,000 employees – is a response to higher inflation.  However, it will also drive prices even higher, both through lost productivity and higher costs to pay for higher wages. Continue reading

Fear and Loathing in Loudoun

Loudoun County parents pack a School Board meeting. Photo credit: Idiocracy News Media

by Ian Prior

For several years, parents in Loudoun County, Virginia have been clamoring for accountability, transparency, higher standards, and safety in their schools. They haven’t been getting it, and that’s why new leadership is needed.

The brunt of the parents’ grievances has been largely directed toward the Loudoun County School Board, which has been embroiled in several scandals that remain unresolved.

In October 2021, a male student at Broad Run High School was arrested for sexual battery and abduction of a fellow student. Only a few days later, it was reported that the same student had previously committed two counts of forcible sodomy on a fellow student at Stone Bridge High School. The male assailant, who had gained access to the female bathroom on account of his claim of “gender fluidity,” is said to have been wearing a skirt during the assault.

The anxious parents in Loudoun County have been demanding answers as to why a student accused of rape was allowed to quietly transfer to another school where he reoffended. The scandal prompted an independent investigation into the tragedy. The LCSB has emphatically refused to make the resulting Independent Review available to the Loudoun parental community. Continue reading

Paid In Full, State Needs to Give Us Our Change

By Barbara Hollingsworth

Imagine a merchant refusing to hand over the change when a customer paid with a $20 bill for a $17.50 item. Virginians would be irate if a restaurant, bar, grocery store, or other private establishment decided to keep the change because the business might “need” the extra money in the future. Yet the Virginia General Assembly is attempting to do the same thing on a much larger scale.

The latest preliminary figures from the Virginia Department of Revenue put the current general fund budget surplus at more than $5.1 billion for fiscal year 2023, which ended June 30. This is more than double the $1.94 billion surplus the commonwealth posted in 2022. This huge surplus is money left over after every single item in the state budget was fully funded under the amended 2022 Appropriation Act, including education, health and welfare, transportation, public safety, and every department and program funded with state tax dollars.

This unprecedented revenue surplus was largely due to higher-than-expected payroll withholding of individual income taxes (which are still not indexed to inflation), as well as corporate and sales taxes.

In other words, Virginia taxpayers were overcharged $5.1 billion over the past two years and $3 billion more than the commonwealth’s own 2023 revenue forecast. And yet some members of the General Assembly, all of whom are up for re-election in November, don’t want to give any of it back. Continue reading

Post Attacks Homeschooling Because It Succeeds

Derrick Max

by Derrick Max

Over the last few years, homeschooling has grown in Virginia by almost 40 percent. In fact, homeschoolers in Virginia now account for almost 60,000 students — making homeschooling the fifth largest school district in the Commonwealth. Because homeschoolers are self-funded, this saves Virginia’s state and local governments almost $800 million per year.

More importantly, homeschoolers outperform public school students in almost every measurable category. Homeschoolers score significantly higher on standardized tests, have higher college graduation rates, lower rates of depression and anxiety, and succeed at higher rates as adults.

Yet, The Washington Post reported in The Revolt of the Christian Home-Schoolers (May 30, 2023), based almost solely on one couple’s experience, as a “conscious rejection of contemporary ideas about biology, history, gender equity and the role of religion in American Government.” The article, with scant evidence, concludes that there is an “unmistakable backlash” of formerly homeschooled children denouncing homeschooling.

Riddled with references to “indoctrination” and “abuse,” homeschooling is painted by The Washington Post as a fringe and dangerous educational option. These homeschoolers “could not recover or reconstruct the lost opportunities of their childhood” as “there were so many things they had not learned.” Continue reading