As I’ve referenced here in a few posts, Virginia’s apportionment of state-level resources (read: funding) of a local education and transportation nature is handled by a formula known as the local composite index or LCI. The LCI takes into account things like property values, median income levels, and the like to produce a number that is used in calculations of, for example, how much money is sent to this-or-that school district. It’s a numbers game that has usually resulted in northern Virginia counties like Loudoun paying a lot more into taxes than we get back in education funding. The LCI is recalculated every 2 years. For the first time in those 40 years, the LCI recalculation was going to result in a greater amount of money coming our way. Not that we’re getting more in state funding than we pay in taxes – not even close – but more than we would have gotten with the previous LCI.
Of course, if we get more money, that means that school districts in counties with a lower LCI get less. That doesn’t sit well with some of them and outgoing Governor Tim Kaine proposed that the LCI recalculation be postponed so as to avoid that.
The resulting LCI freeze would have meant that Loudoun would miss out on $34 million in funding that should have come our way. Combined with Fairfax and Prince William County, we’d miss out on $124 million in total. That’s simply not right. We have, for 40 years, played by the rules and sent an ever greater share of money to other counties. Then, when for the 1st time we’d see flow shift in the opposite direction, people want to change the rules on us. In other words, the LCI is just fine so long as we’re footing the bill. When the LCI doesn’t do that, they think it’s unfair.
Speaking about his decision, Governor McDonnell stated, “For nearly forty years, the Local Composite Index has been an impartial means by which to determine state and local responsibility for education funding in Virginia. The application of this Index has always been done in an objective manner, using the most recent fiscal data to most fairly apportion state resources. For many school districts, particularly in Northern Virginia, the biennial update of the Index has meant far less funding from the state than that received by school districts in localities experiencing lesser rates of economic growth. Accordingly, I will not support the proposed freeze in the budget introduced by the previous Administration. The Local Composite Index must be applied to all localities, at all times, in the same objective and fair manner by which it has always been utilized.”
Good call, Governor.