« May 2003 | Main | July 2003 »

June 29, 2003

Board Puts Seal of Approval on County's Epithet as Peoples' Republic

At their June 28, 2003 meeting, the Arlington County Board joined such Left Coast cities as Berkeley, Oakland and Santa Cruz in adopting a so-called living wage (a moralistic term describing an above-market minimum wage that results in pay increases for no additional work). According to the Employment Policies Institute, "living wage" campaigns are organized efforts to force employers to pay wage rates on some definition of "employee need" rather than on "work performed." EPI adds that labor unions hope that by increasing the private sector's labor costs, the living wage can reduce the privatization of public sector jobs. In adopting the FY2004 budget, the Board appropriated the tax revenues for paying living wages to certain of its employees and employees of selected non-profits. Saturday's action extends the policy to certain county contractors although Virginia's Attorney General has opined that "(A) locality does not have the authority to require contractors to provide a "living wage" to their employees as a condition for the award of a public contract." Arlington residents who wonder how carefully the County Board manages their tax dollars may find that the actions taken in the name of the "living wage" provide an unambiguous answer."

June 24, 2003

The problem is still the growth of state spending!

In an indepth analysis of how the 50 states spend, tax and balance their budgets, Monday's USA Today found that the major problem has "less to do with the weak national economy than with the ability of governors and legislators to manage money wisely." The paper found that some states have seen "handsome growth" in tax revenues but still have "huge budget shortfalls." However, there are well-managed states that even in the face of "declines in tax collections" have "promptly took painful steps to balance their books." Are there lessons in this for Arlington County? Stay tuned!

June 23, 2003

Will the Arlington Convention Center be a boon, or a boondoggle?

Today's Virginian Pilot newspaper contains a story about Virginia Beach's new convention center, which is set to breakground this week. The story is headlined "Convention center going up as demand goes down," and includes some serious discussion about the risks involved, inlcuding the fact that "(B)usiness travel started slipping in 1998 and has declined steadily since" according to a representative of the Travel Industry Association of America. In an article in Saturday's Washington Post, there's a short discussion about the convention center being planned for Arlington County. The Post article noted a study released by the baseball stadium authority claiming that a convention center co-located with the stadium could save $31 million from the projected $80 to $120 million cost of the convention center. Stay tuned, folks!

If Deficit Hawks are Serious, then cut spending

According to an op-ed by Ed Fuelner, president of the Heritage Foundation, posted on today's National Review Online, "Some lawmakers say it so often, you'd think it was a mantra: We can't afford to cut taxes because doing so would increase the federal deficit." Feulner then goes on to show that Congress' out-of-control spending is to blame for much of the deficit. In fact, he shows that reducing annual growth of mandatory spending programs to 4.6%, versus 5.6%, could bring the budget back into balance by 2008.

Idea for a Regional Gas Tax Floated

Speaking on WTOP's Ask the Chairman program last Wednesday, Kate Hanley (D), Chairman of Fairfax's Board of Supervisors and an alternate director on the WMATA board, suggested "(A) regional gas tax might be needed to create a dedicated funding source for Metro." Hanley then went on to say that "elected and transit officials need to better explain why more funding is needed for Metro." It would be better if Ms. Hanley, and the other elected officials on the WMATA board would explain what they are doing to hold down costs and make the Metro system more efficient.