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Reaction: McDonnell again proposes raiding school funds to pay for roads

Education is a core and vital function of government, not a free bucket of money to borrow from at will

ProgressVA today released the following statement from Executive Director Anna Scholl in reaction to news that Governor McDonnell has again proposed raiding the general fund to pay for transportation.

"Once again, Governor McDonnell has proposed to pit education and tranportation against each other in a battle for funding. Providing every child the opportunity to learn and obtain a quality education is a core and essential function of government. Without a well-educated workforce and a functional transportation system, Virginia cannot hope to attract top tier businesses, workers, and families. These home-front investments are an investment in Virginia's economic future."

Since the beginning of the recession, Virginia has reduced state support for K-12 education by $2.6 billion. [The Commonwealth Institute, April 2011] McDonnell has in fact touted his own work to cut "billions" from education in Virginia. [YouTube via ProgressVA, October 2011]

The Governor's justification that previous year "surpluses" compensate for fewer education doesn't hold water. As the Governor well knows, "surpluses" are not free money available to be allocated to current pressing issues. In fact, the vast majority of state funds left unspent at the end of the fiscal year are statutorily obligated to pre-existing programs. Without specific action from the Governor and the General Assembly, those funds cannot be allocated to education to remedy the hole in general fund caused by a sales tax diversion to transportation. A breakdown of last year's budget "surplus" allocation is available from the Roanoke Times