The construction of necessary schools continues to be forgotten | Editorial
Their original proposal was to use state lottery revenues – then $ 350 million a year – to build schools. The sponsor was a Democrat from southwest Virginia, a species then that was not as rare as it is today. However, Del. Tom Jackson of Carroll County was joined by several of his colleagues from Northern Virginia. And at least one Republican, State Senator Steve Newman, R-Lynchburg, has suggested using part of the lottery proceeds, but not the full amount.
Then-senator Emily Couric, D-Charlottesville, wrote editorials supporting the proposal. This is historically significant because Couric was a rising star in his party, in tune with his rising liberal wing. She was seen as the future of the party and might well have become the state’s first female governor had she not been stricken with cancer in 2001. It was one thing for a rural Democrat like Jackson to advocate state funding for school building, but quite another for someone like Couric. “We have a crisis on our hands,” she wrote. “In communities across our Commonwealth, schools are collapsing.”
The chairman of the Democratic Party at the time was a Democrat from Northern Virginia – Del. Kenneth Plum. He led a statewide tour in a school bus to highlight the need to build a school. In the end, Democrats pushed so hard for funding to build schools that Republicans were forced to agree to something. It wasn’t close to the dedicated funding stream Jackson wanted, it was $ 110 million in a 2 year budget, but it was, at least, something. After that, Republicans gained full control of the House in 1999, and they certainly did not push for the state to fund school construction. Today, however, neither is this new generation of Democratic leaders.