Monday, June 26, 2006

More on Growing School Choice Movement

When I posted comments Friday on school choice gaining bi-partisan momentum in NJ, I had not yet seen the commentary in the Wall Street Journal's online, from Clint Bolick, the president and general counsel of the Alliance for School Choice.

Mr. Bolick's article, "'Toe-Hold Strategies': Democrats for (school) choice," relates the growing bi-partisan support for initiating and expanding school choice programs in localities across the nation.

When the Arizona legislature concludes its 2006 session in a few days, it will set a record for school-choice legislation by enacting four new or expanded programs allowing disadvantaged children to attend private schools. Even more remarkable: The programs were enacted in a state with a Democratic governor.

Yet Arizona is not an aberration. Already in 2006, a new Iowa corporate scholarship tax credit bill was signed into law by Gov. Tom Vilsack; and in Wisconsin, Gov. Jim Doyle signed a bill increasing the Milwaukee voucher program by 50%. Gov. Ed Rendell may expand Pennsylvania's corporate scholarship tax credit program, as he did last year. Messrs. Vilsack, Doyle and Rendell are all Democrats.

And last year, hell froze over: Sen. Ted Kennedy endorsed the inclusion of private schools in a rescue effort for over 300,000 children displaced from their schools by Hurricane Katrina. As a result, tens of thousands of kids are attending private schools using federal funds, amounting to the largest (albeit temporary) voucher rrogram ever enacted. Before that, a voucher program for the District of Columbia was established with support from Democratic Mayor Anthony Williams and Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Joseph Lieberman.

Let's hope Virginia lawmakers--on both sides of the aisle-- follow these examples and give serious consideration to greater choice options for Virginia's students and families.


Friday, June 23, 2006

Tuition Tax Credits Gain Bi-partisan Support in NJ

Though I enjoyed last year’s Innovations in Government Conference, other commitments kept me away from today’s event. Hopefully Delegate Saxman and Geoff Segal will be able to give us some updates from the conference—based on the Agenda posted below, it appeared that they had a very good line up of presenters.

Just a quick Friday afternoon post on education from the NY Times this week. This article is definitely worth a read. Tuition tax credits—similar to HB1294 introduced by Delegate Saxman this year—are gaining bi-partisan support in NJ.

Bills sponsored by two Democrats, Senator Joseph V. Doria Jr. of Jersey City and Assemblywoman Nilsa Cruz-Perez of Camden, would use tax credits, rather than the transfer of public money away from public schools, to provide low-income families with the chance to send their children to a Good Counsel instead of a Barringer.

Using an existing program in Pennsylvania as the model, the bills would establish a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for private companies that donated money for scholarships, or for tuition to out-of-district public schools.

Opponents of school choice continue to argue that this is simply a plan to take money from public schools. Hopefully they will read stories such as this and remember that it is really about giving all students the opportunity to receive a quality education and have the chance for success.

The legislation and sponsors can be viewed here and here.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

2006 Innovations in Government Conference Agenda

“Transforming Government through Information Technology”

Sponsored by: Deloitte

In Partnership with the Office of the Governor, Secretary of Technology and the Cost Cutting Caucus of the General Assembly

June 23, 2006• 9:00 a.m. to 2:50 p.m

Dominion Resources Innsbrook Corporate Center • 5000 Dominion Blvd. Glen Allen, VA 23060

  • 8:30 a.m. Registration/coffee
  • 9:00 a.m. – 9:05 a.m. Welcome
    Mike Thompson, Thomas Jefferson Institute
  • 9:05 a.m. – 9:20 a.m. “The Cost Cutting Caucus: Ally in Government Change”
    Del Chris Saxman, Cost Cutting Caucus Chairman
  • 9:20 a.m. –9:35 a.m. “What’s Up Around the Country?”
    Geoff Segal, Dir. of Government Reform, Reason Foundation
  • 9:35 a.m. – 10:20 a.m. “Promoting Administrative Efficiencies”
    Honorable Don Upson, former Secretary of Technology
  • 10:20 a.m. -- 10:30 a.m.. Break
  • 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. “Governing Forward”
    William Eggers, Director Deloitte Research
  • 12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. Box Lunch
  • 12:30 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. Round Table Discussion
    Eggers, Upson & Davidson
  • 1:15 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Break
  • 1:30 p.m. – 2: 15 p.m. “Cost Effective Options for Accessing Technology”
    Hon. Glenn Davidson, Leader of EquaTerra Public Sector Group
  • 2:15 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. “Overview of Virginia Government Efforts”
    Honorable Aneesh Chopra, Secretary of Technology
  • 2:45 p.m. – 2:50 p.m. Wrap Up
    Mike Thompson, Thomas Jefferson Institute

Friday, June 16, 2006

Almost there

Well, it looks like the white smoke will be seen later today down at the General Assembly Building.

Word is that only a few differences remain and that we will be in on Tuesday at noon to vote out the new biennial budget.

The postings have been a little slow here as Va Cost Cutting largely due to the schedule of one hectic family. Lacrosse, volleyball, tee ball and baseball can completely drain any time for extra curriculars.

The good news is that the work continues on creating a more effective and efficient government.

On June 23rd, there will be another Innovations in Government meeting in Richmond. While many people agree that Virginia is well managed, the common concern seems to be around being able to measure what we are doing. How we can be called well managed without good measurements is beyond me; however, we must continue the push to better government and part of that push is dealing with what is and make it better sans recrimination and finger pointing.

Will post the agenda on the 6/23 conference when details are out.

Have a great weekend!

Creating a culture of change

Delegate Saxman wrote earlier this week about the importance of creating a “culture of change” in state government. He’s right on target, saying that we can’t just talk about what’s wrong, we have to actively search for ways to improve the way government does business.

This means thinking outside the box, challenging the status quo and working for substantial, meaningful reforms. It means not settling for “business as usual” and instead aggressively pursuing dynamic solutions for the 21st century.

One of our core principles at Americans for Prosperity is that our prosperity and our freedom will best be ensured through free-market, limited government policies. We believe that American ingenuity and entrepreneurship are the driving forces behind out economy, not bigger, costlier and more intrusive government.

Simply adding more layers of bureaucracy, or turning over more and more of our hard-earned money to the government is not a solution. And doing things the same way we always have is not going to create a better system.

Ted Balaker over at the Reason Foundation points this out in the area of transportation in his recent commentary, "Government Solutions From the 1950s Won't Fix Today's Traffic Problems." He notes that "we cannot create the economy of tomorrow with an interstate transportation system that's stuck in the 1950s." Instead,

It's time to transform our transportation system from a drag on commerce to a facilitator of innovation. We must borrow good ideas, both homegrown and foreign.

He goes on to point out, as we've noted on this blog before, that "more than $25 billion in private capital has already emerged for U.S. road projects in just a few states — and there's much more where that came from."

Active pursuit of these types of innovative partnerships and other creative solutions will help to develop a real "culture of change" and ensure our continued prosperity.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Culture of change - June 6th

I would like to thank Bill Leighty (Governor's Chief of Staff),Mike Thompson(Thomas Jefferson Institute) and Dominion Resources for planning and hosting a very exciting day of discussion about how to make state government work better and more efficiently.

On June 6th a wonderful mixture of government managers and leaders assembled to brain storm on how to make Virginia an even better managed government. Many ideas were considered and hopefully will bear fruit in the years to come.

There will be, hopefully, many projects and potential legislation as a result, but we agreed at the beginning of the meeting not to "rat anyone out". So with that, I will just say thank you to all who participated and for the Culture of Change that is brewing in both the executive and legislative branches.

It is often said that Virginia is the best managed state(tied actually with Utah) and if that is so, then I genuinely weep for the other 48. We have a long way to go, but there are so many good hard working people in our government that we simply cannot lose sight of the end goals because of a couple or many anecdotes on what is wrong with state government.

Nothing this large will be perfect and in our overly critical world where every person who phones into a sports talk or political talk show can hold court and wax on about how so and so or this and that are JUST AWFUL. It is good to know that there are some who are willing to pitch in and work through the problems rather than just point them out and feel like they have actually DONE something.

Iacocca time - "Lead, follow or get out of the way".

Monday, June 12, 2006

Paying attention to "creativity behind the scenes" in the legislature

This week's edition of Bacon's Rebellion is up, and as I've noted before, as always there are a number of articles worth a read.

In particular, Mike Thompson writes of "Creativity Behind the Scenes," in which he discusses many of the cost cutting and efficiency creating initiatives being pushed by leaders in the legislature and Attorney General Bob McDonnell.

Despite budget disagreements that grab the headlines, Virginia lawmakers are coming to quiet agreement on several ways to make government work more productively.

He's right-- while budget battles may make the headlines, it is important to remember that there is still important work being done to improve the way our government does business.