As word is beginning to leak regarding the conversations that he's had with some members of the General Assembly, however, we're beginning to see why he wouldn't necessarily want the public paying too much attention to the cuts that he'll be proposing.
And because the meetings continue to take place behind closed doors, McDonnell's ideas are emerging only in drips and drabs. We already mentioned, for instance, that more than 40 percent of the $1.7 billion in cuts he is recommending would come from K-12 education, largely by moving away from the state's Standards of Quality mandates. Those items outline what is considered a basic education in Virginia and funding them has traditionally been shared by the state and local school systems.Now the financial situation that Virginia (and states all over the country, for that matter) is facing right now will obviously result in some important programs being cut from the state budget. In a time when the Republicans are hoping to take advantage of populist anger against the establishment, it shouldn't be too surprising that McDonnell and other GOP leaders in Virginia don't want the public talking about how they're going to be cutting education funding. Perhaps even more important for the GOP's political future, they definitely don't want the public talking about how one of the reasons these education cuts are so severe is that the GOP has been fighting to make sure that corporations and the EXTREMELY wealthy receive big tax cuts.
By keeping the discussion of potential cuts behind closed doors, McDonnell is preventing the public from weighing in on potential alternatives such as reinstating the estate tax and making sure that big corporations pay their fair share of the tax burden. Considering the fact that these policies are opposed by some of the GOP's biggest financial donors, however, it shouldn't be too surprising that McDonnell is trying to limit this debate. It's simply a shame that it's Virginia's students that have to suffer as a result of the GOP's political games.