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FCTA: Virginia Education and Welfare Programs Are Broken

FCTA: Virginia Education and Welfare Programs Are Broken

Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance testimony to the
Fairfax County delegation to the Virginia General Assembly
January 4, 2014

Distinguished Members of the General Assembly:

The Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance finds that Virginia spending is out of control and that the major government programs, education and welfare, are broken.

Between Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 and the start of the housing bubble in FY2000, Virginia expenditures increased 94 percent, from $22 billion to $43 billion, an increase of $21 billion. Over the same period inflation was 34 percent and Virginia population increased 15 percent.

Of the $21 billion in increased expenditures, $6.4 billion went to education spending, which increased six times faster than population (91 percent vs. 15 percent) and $7.1 billion went to Individual and Family Services, about half of which is Medicaid, which increased seven times faster than population (112 percent vs. 15 percent).

Virginia education and welfare programs consume more than half of state expenditures and have the fastest growing budgets. According to the 2013 ACT college admission test results, of the 22,165 Virginia seniors tested, only 37 percent were prepared for college. Only eight percent of African/American seniors were prepared for college. A four-year college degree no longer guarantees a job.

Despite increasing welfare spending seven times faster than population, Medicaid nursing home care is problematic, there is still a long waiting list for Medicaid waivers for the disabled, and subsidized housing, food, medical care, and childcare for unwed mothers creates an incentive for out-of-wedlock births. Since 1960, the percent of Virginia children born out-of-wedlock has increased from 3 percent to 28 percent (in 2011).

Fixing these programs requires change.

Instead of fulfilling its constitutional mandate to provide a quality education, the Department of Education facilitates statewide mediocrity and should be abolished. Schools should be accountable to parents, not to the state. Likewise, in large school districts, schools should be effectively made charter schools with policies determined by each school's staff and emancipated from district administrators. Public schools need competition, with each other and with private and home schooling through tuition tax credits.

Medicaid should cease to be a right. Families, including extended families, should have the primary responsibility to care for their elderly and disabled, with the help of private charity including churches. With an increasing number of elderly and proportionately fewer workers paying payroll taxes, government can no longer guarantee, and in fact is now not providing, quality care. Government's attempt to replace families and charity is failing. Those already on Medicaid can be grandfathered and the neediest could be added, but the public needs to understand that the federal government with its $12 trillion public debt and half-trillion dollar annual deficits cannot be relied on for expanded Medicaid funding.

Thank you.