Press Club

The Right Note: Slight Uptick?

Mark KellyThe Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

Two little discussed revenue raisers in the most recent Arlington budget were included by the County Board in April and formally voted on last week.

Your natural gas and electricity bills will go up in what was described as a “slight uptick” in a recent ARLnow story. The slight uptick is a rate increase of 50%.

Also included in the budget is an increase in local bus ride fares on ART, up 14% for adults and 18% for students.

Arlington’s ability and willingness to raise taxes and fees on its citizens is one of the biggest reasons why the county receives AAA bond ratings from all three credit rating agencies. According to the Fitch ratings, “The county’s revenue framework is solid in its unlimited ability to raise property taxes.”

So never worry that Arlington will lose its highest bond rating because the rating agencies view the taxpayers as a fully stocked ATM.

Last week, Progressive Voice published six of the 32 resolutions adopted by 8th District Democrats, under the heading of a “progressive agenda.”

While too many in the resist movement have dropped any sense of civility in the public policy debate, that the Democrats are listing what they are for should be applauded, even if we disagree.

Included in last week’s post was a dubious call to restrict the ability of your elected representatives the ability to review rules published by federal agencies by imposing a two-thirds supermajority vote to say what the law should be.

While Congress has delegated much of the rule-making authority to agencies, it still ultimately has the authority to make laws under the Constitution. If a majority of the House and Senate can agree on, and a President is willing to sign, a legislative initiative overturning a rule they believe to be out of step with the law, then our Constitutional process has worked as intended.

They also called for a $15 minimum wage across the country. It is still too early to tell what all of the impacts of this change will be in cities like Seattle who have been phasing it in.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 98 percent of full-time workers earn more than the current minimum wage. About 50% of those making the federal minimum wage are high school and college age, often working their first job or a job to help pay for expenses while in school.

Interestingly, 89 percent of teenagers who work are already making more than the current minimum wage. Any policy that has the potential to reduce opportunities for people to learn how to work on their first job on the economic ladder should be viewed with skepticism.

The list included criminal justice reform. This is an area where there is a good deal of crossover appeal to liberty-minded Republicans who believe that “overcriminalization” in America has resulted in over-incarceration and that individuals who made a mistake but want to put their lives together to be productive members of society should be given every opportunity to do so. Hopefully lawmakers on both sides will find areas of agreement in this area that can be passed into law.

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