Government bureaucrats often spend the taxpayers' money on the basis of rosy assumptions from tax revenue. Of course, in doing so, they sometimes get burned. But when they are, have no fear, because the Washington Post will lament their plight.
Such was the case recently with the Fairfax County, Va., school board, which the Washington Post gripes is left "with a $30 million shortfall" because the county's Board of Supervisors elected to raise property taxes by one cent per $100 of assessed value rather than two cents, as the county executive had originally hoped.
"That decision is largely responsible for the school system's projected shortfall, school officials say," Post reporter T. Rees Shapiro noted in his May 3 Metro section story. Shapiro went on to quote a school board member lamenting that "we don't have taxing authority" and hence "We don't have a voice." "[I]f only they had done that extra 1-cent increase," groused Fairfax school board member Megan McLaughlin.
To his credit, Rees Shapiro did include the other side of the story, turning to Supervisor John C. Cook (R-Braddock, Va.) who blamed the school board for not having "done the [proper] planning."
"Cook said the School Board did not prepare for a potential budget shortfall, despite forecasts of a tight budget year," Shapiro noted.
That being said, the overall tenor of Shapiro's 15-paragraph piece was that the Fairfax school system "touted by the administration as one of the best in the country" could not be even better -- and pay its teachers more -- because county supervisors were reluctant to hike property taxes on homeowners even more.
Perhaps Shapiro should have interviewed some everyday homeowners in Fairfax County to ask them their thoughts on the school board's complaint, especially in light of the fact that they will be paying heavier taxes on their properties thanks to the tax hike and rising home values in the county.
Of course, had Shapiro done that, he'd have actually given readers a more balanced story, not one which painted professional educators as the victims of tax-shy county supervisors.