Arlington, VA

The 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 ARLnow.com.

The County Board will close out the year at its Dec. 15 meeting by considering their legislative priorities and policy statements to transmit to the Virginia General Assembly.

The Board’s top priorities are more money for education and transportation. They also would like some of the money back that was used to pay for Medicaid expansion, an initiative they supported. According to their priorities, they would be happy to pay for any spending increases with new taxes on internet sales as well as the extra revenue created by the federal tax cut. The County Board will have to get in line behind the $462.5 million shortfall in the Medicaid budget that will have to be made up first.

The policy statements are a rather extensive laundry list of 39 items, some of which have no impact on the job of our County Board other than to make a political statement.

But let’s look at a couple examples of where we agree.

Improvements in mental health services. If you talk to health care professionals, school administrators, and law enforcement, addressing mental health issues is critically important to fighting back against so many of the tragedies we see around us, including drug addiction and suicide.

Supporting law enforcement efforts across Virginia to fight against human trafficking. Many people do not realize that this modern day slavery is happening all around us. Law enforcement is already working hard on this issue, but they need our continued support.

And examples of where we disagree?

Putting the ability to raise taxes at the top of the list. Despite protestations to the contrary, Arlington County continues to take in more and more revenue each year. And our County Board has already signaled a willingness to raise taxes next year under their current authority.

“Non-partisan redistricting.” It sounds nice but may have no practical effect on the influence of politics into the process. In fact, a popular proposal to make redistricting less partisan essentially remove any accountability to the voters for the process by using an appointed commission — appointed by the party in power. And since every seat on the County Board is elected countywide, this definitely falls into the not relevant category.

The Board opines on everything from immigration, to the ERA, to solar power, to preserving trees, to the ability to impose greater local land use restrictions, to tracking our movements by keeping data from license plate readers. You should read the entire list for yourself.

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