Connolly Lashes Out At Kaine's Proposal For Police Funding
Sunday, January 7, 2007
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald E. Connolly took a rare swipe at Gov. Timothy M. Kaine yesterday, saying the governor's proposed new formula for state funding of police unfairly favors the city Kaine once served as mayor.
In a proposed amendment to the state budget, Kaine (D) would distribute part of a $214 million pot according to rates of violent crime. Fairfax, where homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault have dropped 23 percent since 2001, would receive about $1 million less than the $29.7 million it would stand to get if the formula remained the same. According to the county's calculation, that is the biggest loss of any locality.
In Richmond, where Kaine was mayor from 1998 to 2001, rates of violent crime exceeded national averages, according to 2005 FBI reports.
Under the current distribution method, the city would lose $1 million from its $17.3 million share; under the new formula, it would gain $1.7 million.
"I love Governor Kaine, but he is the former mayor of Richmond," said Connolly (D). The new funding proposal, he said, "is being done at our expense."
Kevin Hall, Kaine's press secretary, said the program was designed to help cities and used population as one of the criteria for funding. But as older cities lost population and large suburban counties, including Fairfax, established police departments and tapped into the fund, an imbalance developed.
Hall called the new formula "a defensible and rational solution." He also pointed out that even under the new formula, Fairfax would get about $600,000 more. "Only in government," he said, could such an increase be considered a cut.
Connolly made his comments after addressing the county's state legislative delegation, which held its annual hearing for the 2007 General Assembly at the government center yesterday. In a brief speech, Connolly urged lawmakers to fight the police-funding proposal "tooth and nail."
Connolly praised Kaine's plan to spend $500 million of a state surplus for road and mass-transit improvements in Northern Virginia, including new rail cars for Metro and VRE and high-occupancy or toll lanes on the Capital Beltway.
But Connolly reiterated the need for a permanent source of revenue to address hundreds of millions of dollars in other transportation needs.
"Counting on one-time general funds to pay for long-term transportation needs is like counting on an annual Christmas bonus to pay your mortgage," he said. "It's not reliable, not sustainable, not responsible."
Kaine has also proposed a $1 billion plan to raise some taxes and fees for transportation improvements.
About 200 residents and representatives of nonprofit groups and neighborhood associations also came to give lawmakers their wish lists for the legislative session, which starts Wednesday. Legislators heard from low-income working mothers concerned about child-care funding, an advocate for organ donation programs and a coalition of civic groups about open-space conservation and tree preservation.
Kerri Wilson, director of Reston Interfaith, said the lack of affordable housing remains the most critical issue for those people the organization serves. She said the waiting list for people seeking housing vouchers totals 10,000.
"They are waiting for us to do the right thing," Wilson said.