Republican for Chairman
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors
Pronunciation Guide: "Purves" rhymes with "service"
Good government does not primarily reside in legislatures and boardrooms; it resides in families. Children from strong families are more likely to do well in school and become good citizens. Fathers are the best form of gun control, as gun violence is prevalent where there is a high concentration of fatherlessness.
Unfortunately U.S. families are faltering. Forty percent of births occur outside of marriage. The U.S. birthrate is low, resulting in only three workers paying payroll tax for each senior citizen on Social Security and Medicare. This is the primary cause of annual Federal $500B deficits. The deterioration of the ideal of traditional marriage portends a fiscal calamity arising from increasing welfare and entitlement spending and fewer taxpayers.
For social and fiscal reasons, there is no higher priority than to restore the ideal of traditional marriage as the prerequisite for having children and whose purpose is to have and nurture children. As all make mistakes, remember Christ's comment to the woman caught in the act of adultery: "Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more."
While a social conservative, Arthur tries to understand all points of view. Social conservatives believe that gays are undermining marriage and that the gay lifestyle is promiscuous. Gays reply that most are not promiscuous and that there is plenty of heterosexual promiscuity. The gay view is, at least in part, that they have been persecuted for centuries for feelings they did not choose to have. Gay advocates say that same-sex marriages work and can successfully raise children, who are not necessarily gay, and that a California law allowing transgender people in opposite-sex bathrooms has been a non-issue. With the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, the U.S. has begun an unprecedented high-risk social experiment that will eventually validate or invalidate these assertions. Arthur had believed though that same-sex attractions and transgender feelings were something that could be "prayed away," but now recognizes that for most this is not true and that these feelings can begin at a very young age. Gays should be able to feel safe in our society, including work, housing, and benefits.
Still, Arthur opposes same-sex marriage as it redefines marriage away from being a protective shield around children, and he believes that a mother and a father provide the best environment for raising children. However, now that same-sex marriage is legal, Arthur supports benefits and housing for same-sex couples, something he had opposed. He believes, though, that gays and transgender people should not act on their feelings, and schools should not be required to have gender-netural bathrooms, just as he opposes coed housing in colleges. Heterosexuals should recognize that asking gays to live celibate and transgender people to stay with their biological sex is asking a lot. Heterosexuals are also challenged with feelings they should not act on, as is evident in the 41 million members of the Ashley Madison "married dating" website. None are exempt from this life's tests.
Arthur has reached out to the gay community in his campaign and would continue to do so as county chairman.
We rely on public schools to teach values, and our schools are eager to do so. However schools attempt to do so on a secular basis, which is ineffective.
The Fairfax County School Board's mission statement says that schools will "empower" students to "lead "ethical lives." The Family Life Education philosophy statement speaks of teaching "responsibility for self and others." For this, Fairfax County taxpayers spend $100 million annually for guidance counselors, social workers, psychologists, health teachers, alternative education teachers, safety and security specialists, and school police officers.
It's not working: For example, seventy percent of applicants for the Fairfax County Police Department fail the lie detector test.
If the schools' approach to teaching moral values does not work, then what does?
President John Quincy Adams said that moral behavior requires belief in God, in immortality, and in a future state of rewards and punishments. He said, "The laws of man may bind him in chains or put him to death but will never make him wise, virtuous, or happy." Source: John Quincy Adams, Letters of John Quincy Adams to His Son on the Bible and Its Teachings (Auburn: James M. Alden, 1850), pp. 22-23 as quoted on WallBuilders.com.
In a January 28, 2003, editorial, "Justice Scalia's Lament," even the Washington Post admitted that the founding fathers intended that the Federal government should foster Christianity:
In reality, the founding-era practice of religious neutrality was not one that even Justice Scalia today would recognize as neutral. For while Justice Scalia's idea of government neutrality among religious groups had some adherents at the time, it was not the principle that governed the early history of the American republic. States retained established churches and religious tests for public service, for example. Congress paid for missionary work among Native Americans. And many scholarly authorities emphatically did not understand the First Amendment, as the justice now does, as putting Christianity on an even playing field with other religions. Justice Joseph Story -- a celebrated early commentator on the Constitution -- wrote in 1833, for example, that the point of the amendment was "not to countenance, much less to advantage Mahometanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity," but to establish federal neutrality between Christian sects and the states those sects dominated. "[I]t is impossible for those who believe in the truth of Christianity as a divine revelation to doubt that it is the especial duty of government to foster . . . it among all the citizens and subjects," he wrote. This sounds little like neutrality among religions.
The alternative to big government is self-government, of the type taught by Moses and Jesus Christ. The Supreme Court decisions that removed the Lord's Prayer from public schools and turned the Ten Commandments into the ten suggestions must be reversed. Also, "it takes a village" to teach moral discipline; it can't just be taught in churches and then undermined by media and schools. Strengthening families and marriage will reduce the demand for government services, just as the deterioration of families has increased the demand.
Seventy percent of the spending increases are for raises and benefits. To keep up with enrollment and inflation since 2000, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) spending needed to increase 81%. Over that period FCPS retirement spending increased 208% and health care spending increased 296%. While county spending needed to increase 74% to keep up with population and inflation, county retirement and health care spending both increased by about 325%.
Since 2000, FCPS and county benefits spending increased by $690M. If it had increased at the same rate as enrollment, population, and inflation, the increase would have been $420M less. Both FCPS and the county provide "Cadillac" health plans as defined by Obamacare and pensions with retirement at 55 with 75% of salary. While private-sector employers may match 4% of an employee's salary for a 401K, FCPS and the county are paying 20% of salary for pensions.
Nearly half of the FY2017 spending increase ($112M) is for 3.5% raises for county and 4% raises for school employees. Savings from employee turnover, resulting from the retirement of senior employees and replacing them with new hires, adds another $132M to the amount available for raises.
FCPS has about 15,000 applicants and the county about 200,000 applicants for each job opening. However we lose top employees, some to Arlington County, which pays more, and some because of the high cost of living in Fairfax County.
A way to prevent a tax increase is to make local government compensation more like private-sector compensation, with high-deductible insurance plans and 401Ks and lower raises. If the $112M for raises were eliminated, there would still be $132M from turnover savings available for smaller raises. Merit pay or retention bonuses could be used to retain the best employees; paying all employees the premium required to keep the best employees is expensive.
Increasing taxes 9% to fund 4% raises does not make Fairfax County more affordable.
FCPS could perhaps retain teachers, despite lower raises, by reducing reporting, unneeded testing, providing better lesson plans so new teachers would not have to prepare lessons from scratch, and using better curricula so students in a class would all be at the same level of achievement.
There are legal issues to reducing retirement. For one teachers use the Virginia Retirement System, which is statewide. Any benefit reduction would require General Assembly approval. The teachers' supplemental retirement plan and the county's three retirement systems are under local control, but still may be subject to legal requirements.
If benefits and raises cannot be reduced enough to cut taxes, then cutting programs becomes an option. FCPS has 24,000 employees, of whom only 9000 are regular classroom K-12 teachers. There are about 3600 assistant principals, directors, coordinators, specialists, psychologists, social workers, guidance counselors, clerical staff, and technicians costing about $250M all of whom may not be essential to instruction. Some staffing cuts may be prevented by state Standards of Quality staffing requirements. The state should be asked to give schools more control over their staffing.
Another option is to end to the seven-period high school day, which would not be needed if high school band students were exempted from health class and advanced diploma requirements were made compatible with the six-period day, as they used to be.
County cuts are less obvious because while school staff has increased faster than enrollment (25% to 22%), county General Fund staff has increased only half as fast as population (8% to 17%) since 2000.
In the longer run there could be perhaps hundreds of millions in remedial, alternative education, and county human services savings if the schools would use curricula that have been demonstrated to be effective with low-income students and eliminate the minority student achievement gap.
Ideally achievement should be high at all schools and regardless of affluence. The minority student achievement gap evident in the ACT tests is present in the 4th grade, as can be seen from the reading and math scores on the Virginia Department of Education school and division report cards. When FCPS elementary school reading, math, and social studies curriculum specialists were asked if their materials were shown to be effective with low-income students, they responded that they were not sure. The reading specialist acknowledged that FCPS reading elementary reading instruction curriculum is not phonics-based but is a hybrid of phonics and whole language.
There are curricula that have been tested for effectiveness with low-income elementary students, namely Reading Mastery and DISTAR Arithmetic, originally developed in the 1960s by Siegfried Engelmann and the late Wesley C. Becker of the University of Oregon. Engelmann's "Direct Instruction" curricula were the subject of a federally funded research called Project Follow Through, which evaluated curricula for low-income students. Reading Mastery is phonics-based and it and DISTAR arithmetic are highly scripted and involve a lot of drill. The FCPS reading coordinator indicated she would not support Reading Mastery.
Another curriculum is E. D. Hirsch's Core Knowledge Sequence, which teaches geography, American and world history in grades K-8. This contrasts with the FCPS social studies curriculum that teaches state history in 4th grade, world history in 5th grade, and American history in 6th and 7th grades. By contrast with Core Knowledge a child learns geography and American and world history for 9 years, and the material taught in a given year builds on what was taught in previous years. There were two surprising outcomes with Core Knowledge. First it turned out that children in grades K-3 are anxious to learn history. Second, low-income students performed as well as affluent students, because material was taught in the classroom and students did not have to learn it at home.
Finally there is Montessori, which ironically was developed for low-income children in Rome, Italy, but in the United States is generally available only in private schools. However both Prince George's and Arlington county public schools have Montessori programs, and the Prince George's Montessori schools are magnet schools in low-income neighborhoods.
Fairfax County Public Schools should pilot these curricula to close the minority student achievement gap.
Metrorail needs to be fixed. The state's 2013 transportation bill, HB2313, gives Northern Virginia about $300M annually for transportation. However, HB2313 stipulates that the $300M cannot be used for maintenance. The law needs to be changed so the $300M can be used to fix Metrorail. D.C. and Maryland need to make similar commitments; Federal deficits make more Federal funding unlikely.
The plan to toll I-66 outside the Beltway attests to Virginia's lack of money for transportation. In the ten years prior to the passage of HB2313, the Virginia budget increased from $21B to $43B. Of the additional $23B, transportation got only $2B. Education (primary, secondary, and higher education) got $6B and Individual and Family Services, which include Medicaid, got $7B. Both programs increased about twice as fast as population and inflation. The state needs to rein in education and welfare spending. Likewise Federal government needs to rein in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid spending that has been siphoning revenue away from transportation.
I-66, inside or outside the Beltway should not be tolled, even if it means no highway improvements. Instead the Viriginia and Federal governments need to rein in excessive welfare, entitlement, and education spending to free up money for transportation. More tax increases, because that is what the tolls are, reward government fiscal mismanagement.
There is a need for more housing, but the increased density threatens Fairfax County's residential neighborhoods. Homeowners rightly regard zoning as a contract to preserve their open space. Under the new Fairfax Forward redevelopment process, homeowners are likely to have less of say in zoning decisions. Fairfax Forward's supporters argue that if you give homeowners a say in redevelopment, there will be no redevelopment. A better approach would be to mitigate homeowner concerns, by providing road improvements, parks, buffer zones, and amenities in higher-density redevelopment.
County affordable housing programs have not met the demand and probably never will. If the problem is to be solved, it has to be solved privately.
There are two tiers of affordable housing needs, for middle-income, such as teachers and police, and low-income families. As a county we are better off if the workers whose services we rely on live among us rather than have to commute long distances, and it's only fair. Builders need to build smaller homes affordable to middle and low incomes without subsidies. The county can reduce housing costs through less regulation and ending proffers.
Resistance to low-income housing arises from fear of blight, crime, and deteriorating schools. This can be mitigated somewhat by landlord laws that protect renters, neighbors, and neighborhoods. Fundamentally though is the need to end poverty, by ending the minority student achievement gap, better job opportunities, and social and welfare policies that promote marriage and fatherhood. Unfortunately, government has a conflict of interest: If it gets people off of welfare, then government employees will lose their jobs.
Some of the major expenses facing Fairfax County include:
This is the state of Fairfax County after having raised real estate taxes faster than household income for 16 years. More taxes are not an option if we want to stop the erosion of Fairfax County's tax base. The revenue has to come from attracting and growing businesses, schools' reducing remedial and disciplinary costs by improving the curriculum, and reducing human services spending through a better education for minorities, better job opportunities, and unsubsidized low-cost housing.
Charles Darwin acknowledged in 1859 that his theory of evolution contradicted the fossil record. He hoped that further discoveries would change that. However, in 1907 Charles Walcott, Secretary of the Smithsonian, discovered the fossils of the Burgess Shale in the Canadian Rockies. This remarkable discovery had soft-body imprints of the first animal life on earth. These maritime arthropods appear suddenly in the fossil record about 450 million years ago, so suddenly that their appearance is termed the "Cambrian Explosion." There is no fossil record leading up to them. Evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould in his book Wonderful Life states that there were more phyla in the Cambrian period than there are today. Both the sudden appearance and the diversity of this first appearance of animal life contradict Darwinism.
New species appear suddenly in the fossil record, and they do not change. To try to reconcile the fossil record with Darwinism, paleontologists Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould proposed in 1972 their theory of punctuated equilibrium. However this theory is controversial within the evolutionary community.
Evolution has important implications. Thomas Jefferson stated that it is self-evident that men " ... are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights ... ." If Darwin were right then it is not self-evident that there is a Creator, and if there is no Creator, from where do we get our rights?
Paid for and Authorized by Purves for Chairman. Updated 2/25/17