By Carten Cordell Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau
ALEXANDRIA — Illusions were meant to be shattered this week in Virginia , as it turns out that sales tax holidays aren’t really that good for you, standardized math tests aren’t that equal and the roads might not be that open or free. Here is the Week in Review:
Everybody loves a sales tax holiday. It’s a bona fide reason to spend money. As it turns out, that’s what politicians are counting on.
The Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan research group, released a report this week demonstrating how the duty-free buyfests are really just a bright and shiny object that masks real economic problems and state governments are eating them up.
Virginia’s Department of Education has been telling everyone with ears that its new Standards of Learning exam in math is significantly more rigorous this year than in previous ones.
To cushion the blow on the number of students that will be close-lined by this behemoth of bean counting, the state is using a waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act, to curve the passing projections on minority students.
By lowballing the expectations for minorities passing the test, the state creates a separate and unequal setting, said education analyst RiShawn Biddle. Because having unequal standards in education always works out so well.
Virginia hopes to fix the tattered thoroughfare that is Interstate 95 the only way it knows how, by taxing the motorists who drive on it.
The state’s Department of Transportation is proposing $4 to $12 tolls 20 miles from the North Carolina border and doesn’t really want to hear what the public thinks about the idea.
So far, the public isn’t taking the notion in stride.
“The whole process is backwards. VDOT isn’t going to give the public any time to voice their opinion prior to submitting their final application to the Federal Highway Administration,” said Sussex County board member Eric Fly.
VDOT hasn’t addressed concerns to the plan yet, as it was presently either washing its hair or out of the country.
You have got to give it to state Sen. Louise Lucas. When it comes to looking out for her constituents in Portsmouth, she’s all in.
In preparation for the 2013 General Session, Lucas has prefiled a bill to bring casino gambling to Virginia. But in a rare twist, the bill stipulates the casinos must operate in localities whose area is at least 40 percent exempt from local real estate taxes.
Only two towns in the state meet that burden, one is Lexington. There are 2-to-1 odds you can’t name the other one.
Portsmouth has 42 percent of its area exempt from taxes, which cost the city $67 million in revenue in 2009. If the bill gains any ground in the legislature, Portsmouth may be the only casino game in the state.
No word if Wayne Newton comes with the bill.
Check back with Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau for more news, including a county fining a local farmer for selling produce.