Supervisors Question School Budget

The School Board got its first chance to present its requested budget to the Board of Supervisors in person Monday, and supervisors came armed with questions.

Superintendent Dr. Eric Williams outlined a billion-dollar budget request that includes an 8.8 percent—or $86.5 million—increase from the current fiscal year. Of this, the School Board has asked for $58.1 million more in local tax funding—more than the county has to give without a tax increase.

The biggest expense increases stem from keeping up with enrollment. Both boards were caught off guard by the 3.8 percent projected increase in enrollment, or 2,910 additional students. The big question is, as Supervisor Geary M. Higgins (R-Catoctin) put it:

“Where did these kids come from?”

Higgins and other supervisors wanted to know how the School Board’s enrollment projections from past years go “so out of whack.”

“My experience with Loudoun County Public Schools has been the projections for schools and needs, historically, have been pretty doggone good,” Higgins said. “I’m kind of surprised how we got so out of line this time.”

School Board Chairman Eric Hornberger (Ashburn) said that growth in Loudoun has become concentrated in smaller areas, making it harder to predict. The burden of absorbing those new students also required that new schools be built, rather than absorbing them into existing schools spread out around the county, he said.

But some supervisors said the School Board should change the way it makes enrollment projections.

“I think the schools need to take another look at how you’re projecting by-right development,” said Loudoun Vice Chairman Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn). He said that the School Board’s projections only take into account development that requires rezoning, or by-right development that has already begun, and has a blind spot around other properties on which developers could begin to build by right at any time.

“I think, frankly ,it’s probably the single most important thing that you can do, and we can do,” said Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles).

Supervisor Ron Meyer (R-Broad Run) said the county should take into account which types of housing yield the most students in the future.

“We’re about to embark on a yearlong CPAM [Comprehensive Plan Amendment] with the Metro area, and I really think we could use some collaboration,” Meyers said. “We blew these projections.”

School Board member Tom Marshall (Leesburg) wondered about cultural differences around family size among communities.

“I wonder if there’s a cultural value on numbers of children,” Marshall pondered, eliciting no response from other board members.

County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) called out one of Williams’ points—that the number of resource-intensive students like English Language Learners and poorer students has grown much faster than the student population at large. The number of “economically challenged” students, Williams reported, has grown by 109 percent since FY2009.


The Sag Lives On

Supervisors also wanted to know why “the sag”—the relatively lower salaries in the middle of the teacher salary scale, for mid-career teachers—had not been addressed.

“Two years ago, you made substantial improvements to the salary scale, and last year we funded the budget completely with even a few million dollars added,” Higgins said. “I’m wondering how the MA 10-plus (the salary for a teacher with a master’s degree and 10 years of experience) wasn’t fixed at that time.”

Higgins said his understanding was that the School Board and county were trying to fix the salary scale then.

“To do it all at one time would be very cost prohibitive,” said School Board member Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge). “To our superintendent’s credit, he did a much more scaled approach.”

“I think it was just a few percent, and I’ll remind you that when this was brought up during those discussions, we did not get enough funding to do it all at the same time,” Hornberger said.

On Whose Turf?

Supervisor Suzanne M. Volpe (R-Algonkian) wanted to know why artificial turf fields for the county’s four schools without them are still five and six years away.

Her counterpart on the School Board, Debbie Rose (Algonkian), pointed out that supervisors voted down funding to install artificial turf at eight schools in 2013.

“At that time, that did not proceed on your side of the aisle, so we have since been kind of working on it in a one-off way,” Rose said.

School Board member Jeff Morse (Dulles) said the artificial turfed fields were projected to provide a greater benefit than the cost at that time, although the price for the fields has gone up since.

“The recovery time at that point was eight years,” Morse said. “I think now it’s probably more.”

The next step in the budget review process is for supervisors to work through County Administrator Tim Hemstreet’s recommendations, which do not include full funding for the school budget. The School Board will have representatives at supervisors’ work sessions. After the county board adopts its budget in April, the School Board will begin the budget reconciliation process, deciding how to distribute the money the county has given it.

Supervisor Kristen C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg) asked if the School Board would be able to protect priorities like salary increases, continue fixing the salary scale sag, and maintaining small class sizes if the Board of Supervisors passed a tax rate that does not fully fund the School Board’s request.

“I think that when we see the results of your decision, there are going to be nine members that are going to be jockeying to get their priorities funded,” Morse said. “I don’t think any of us can say that there is a protected piece of this budget.”

20 thoughts on “Supervisors Question School Budget

  • 2016-02-27 at 4:19 pm

    $140k on a prorated basis – you have finally lost it.

    Let’s start with your own personal situation. How long did you have to work at your company before you broke the $100k barrier? 4 years? 5 years? 1 year? Remember you are getting paid a lot more than teachers for doing nothing positive for society. You work for a company that manages federal contracts. So in essense, you are a public employee making big buck except that your output is only paperwork and reports, nothing that can’d be done by a much younger, college grad.

    Now, to your claims that teachers are overpaid and that the school system is wasting money. Imagine a college grad who decides to dedicate themselves to teaching and improving the lives of children. They enter into teaching knowing that the pay is low but their financial plans included decent benefits, retirement and extended breaks. Now, they are near retirement having earned everything they have by working toward the public good. Along come this guy, Brian, who wants to throw away the rewards they have been promised for decades simply because he is disgruntled and unloved by his local school. How fair is that?

    Now, to the prorated amount. That is plain nuts. Maybe even mixed. Would you say that a plumber who bill $100 per hour actually earns over $200k if you assumed he/she worked 40 hours a week? OF course not. You simply cannot make up your own rules. Bottom line is bottom line. Take a look around you and see who is living well and who is taking on second jobs to make ends meet. Teachers might be able to retire after working 30 years for the country but they have earned it. You can retire after 30 years at your job also but your plan will be much higher than a teacher.

  • 2016-02-25 at 5:55 am

    CareerSwitcher, close but only partial credit. Due to the transition of the 5% VRS employee contribution (paid by LCPS) to salary, the real number for a step 30 masters teacher is $100K in FY16. All the surrounding counties have made that change so it’s necessary to compare apples to apples. Or, if you’d rather play with the numbers, we can discuss the 5.5%+ raises (instead of the 4.5% I quoted) that LCPS is throwing out in FY17. Your call.

    I can tell you exactly which teachers are earning more than they should. Look on my virginiasgp Facebook page a few months back and you’ll see a bubble chart showing individual teacher’s growth scores. There are large bubbles at the top for teachers who generated great growth. They are underpaid. Then there are large bubbles at the bottom for teachers who generated very little growth, much less than their peers. They are paid too much.

    Or to put it another way, a step 28 teacher who earns $90K+ in salary alone (and ~$110K with pension contribution included) who has never been objectively evaluated certainly stands a good chance of earning too much. Compare that teacher with a step 3 teacher working her tail off and earning $50K in salary (and $60K with pension contribution). In any other field, a worker who performs could earn what they deserve. Workers who just occupy space for many years would never get so many salary increases. It’s not that our good teachers are paid too much, it’s that we have many that are not effective who automatically get more year after year.

    Just admit it. Teachers retire in their early 50’s with a $50K/year pension. County workers don’t get that. Private sector workers don’t get that. Teachers and their unions conspire to extort outsized compensation for their members without any objective evaluation. Go back and read the article in Valerie Strauss WaPo column in Dec-2015 about the teacher who left teaching for software. She took a $10K salary cut. None of our teachers are going to quit teaching and go get a 25-50% pay increase. Nearly all would get a pay cut. Remember the average salary in Loudoun is high $60K’s for women and $80’s for men. Step 30 teacher gets $100K in salary, $120K in salary + pension contribution, and when you consider that teacher only works less than 200 days/yr, the teacher essentially earns $140K+ on a pro-rated basis. How is that “underpaid”? Why do we need to throw salary scale increases at teachers in steps 15+?

    The reform movement is working to improve our community. Yes, ineffective teachers who get large salaries will complain about those who try to either remove them, replace them or retrain them. They want the community to look the other way as they get raise after raise with no accountability. Meanwhile, our students need effective teachers in every classroom, not just half or most. Your efforts to continually protect ineffective teachers, hide true teacher compensation from the public, and object to anybody who attempts to have policy discussions shows that you are the problem, not the solution.

  • 2016-02-24 at 4:18 pm

    Actually, SGP, the salary scale is available on the LCPS website and shows 30 years with a masters at 99,207.

    But the bigger questions is what is wrong with someone who has dedicated their lives to improving the lives of others and who has worked for the county for 30 years to earn that amount. Which specific teachers do you think earn more than they should?

    Keep in mind that professionals with a masters in fields like IT, law, finance, medicine, etc earn easily 25%-50% more than teachers.

    I am not advocating for a huge raise or even complaining about my salary. I knew the finances of switching. I am saying that the retirement plans do not make up for this difference. I am also saying that bitter people like you might want to do something to promote the betterment of your community instead of simply complaining about those that spent their time helping others.

  • 2016-02-24 at 3:58 pm

    So where are all the union activists like LEA leaders Dave Palanzi, Joey Matthews and rare bird Dan Johnson making the case for throwing 5% raises at the most senior teachers?

    Can’t they at least explain how an increase in class size by 1 student (no detrimental effects on learning) to save $20-30M would be a problem?

    Or maybe they should explain to their junior members (steps 1-5) why their favorites (steps 11-15 and 25-30) are getting $2500-3500 in rasies while the junior members get about $1100.

    Maybe LCSB members can speak out for once. Where is your budget for FY18? Is your projected increase even higher than 8% again? For how many years will it be higher than 7% so that Phyllis Randall can coerce BOS and taxpayers into a constant uptick in the tax rate.

    Silence is your best strategy. Especially when you have no rational arguments to make.

  • 2016-02-24 at 1:20 pm

    CareerSwitcher, you should come to more board meetings where they thank the retirees.

    Isn’t it nice that you are playing the same game that LCPS and LCSB members did last year. Believe what we say because we refuse to give you the data for you to prove we are lying. I asked for aggregate performance ratings for teachers and they only gave me one year because a school board member had asked for that data. If he had not asked, it “didn’t exist” and they wouldn’t create it for the public. Same thing for the salary data the first time.

    But we are lucky that DeKenipp (in the HR field) asked for the data by step. Thus, we know that a teacher in step 27 has a 60% chance of leaving (retiring) from LCPS in the next four years. Little math lesson:

    r_xx = retention rate of step xx
    a_xx = attrition rate of step xx
    r_xx = (1 – a_xx)
    So, 1 – (r_27 * r_28 * r_29 * r_30) = 0.6 = 60% chance of leaving.

    Not all of those had 30 years in the system, but the majority of teachers remain in the Virginia system because they have $100K’s tied up in VRS and can’t leave or else they lose it. All a teacher needs is 30 years in the system. Given that the overwhelming majority of teachers start right out of college (22 or 23 yrs old), yes they are retiring at 52 yrs old.

    And a masters degree teacher earns $100,200/yr in salary. The pension formula is 1.7 * 30 yrs * ($100K or last salary) /100 = $50K/yr.

    Now I realize that 5th grade math can be a little tricky for your so I’ve shown all my work. But better yet, why don’t you ask Hornberger to publish the data. Fat chance of that happening. So we can just add the 18% VRS employer contribution to the salaries to get an accurate number without having the number of 53-yr-old retirees. And that means that a step 30 LCPS teacher’s private sector equivalent compensation is:

    Doctorate: $125K/yr ($106.2K regular salary)
    Masters + 30: $120.2K/yr ($101.7K regular salary)
    Bachelors + 30: $114.9K/yr ($97.2K regular salary)

    Nice try, but your propaganda doesn’t work. Note that you would likely get a higher raise under what I proposed vice what the insiders on LCSB proposed. It’s rather amusing that you challenge my facts. That’s what LCPS attorney Julia Judkins tried down in Richmond on Feb 19th. I had been qualified as an expert witness in the trial way back in Dec 2014 (databases, performance metrics) but Judkins claimed she needed to “verify it”. She asked some ridiculous questions, looked like a fool, got the judge laughing at her and it concluded in him ruling “I’m pretty sure he’s an expert!”. But ask away. You might want to review your 5th grade math textbook first, if LCPS actually issued 5th grade math textbooks….

  • 2016-02-24 at 10:59 am

    SGP – where are these teacher who are retiring so young with such a high retirement plan? I think you are trying to calculate a teacher who has been in the county for 30 years and has a PHD. If a teacher has not been here for 30 years, the numbers are much different. If they took off for a few years or transferred to the county, then the numbers are much different. If they don’t have a PHD, the numbers are much different Your continued harping about teacher retirement promotes the fallacy that your made-up scenario is common.

    How many teachers are retiring at the age of 53 with a $50 year pension? Out of the thousands of teachers, is it more than a handful?

  • 2016-02-24 at 7:32 am

    Citizen A. Agreed. Clearly, LCPS is having a problem estimating as well. Time for a re-count.

    Can a Planning Commission be elected by the public? It seems to me that the issues at hand should have direct voter involvement.

  • 2016-02-24 at 7:25 am

    No, Barbara, I won’t let it go. I chose an extreme to demonstrate the value. It doesn’t literally have to go to agricultural. But, you get the basic idea. Downzone (which is what I’ve always supported, so you apparently never understood my position) to reduce the number of potential by-right houses. You know that would be effective and, with the Comprehensive Plan evaluation upon us, can realistically be accomplished.

    ” so the growth has to go somewhere.” Yeah, around the Metro stations and nowhere else. If another really outstanding development (i.e. Waterside) comes along, then consider it. But by-right housing needs to get driven into the ground.

    The bottom line is the BoS needs to stop the number of actual houses (not some political hocus-pocus “approved” houses) being built in order to give the infrastructure time to catch up. Until that happens, traffic will continue to get worse, we’ll keep on tacking on $100M+ a year to the County debt for capital improvements, shifting school zone boundaries and dealing with those headaches will continue, etc. Adding more people to Loudoun does nothing to improve Loudoun. In fact, it is having the opposite effect and lowering the quality of life for current residents.

  • 2016-02-24 at 6:15 am

    CareerSwitcher, do you teach politics at LCPS? Because you addressed none of the scenarios I mentioned while putting forth some alternate reality. I have advocated for:

    1. Step increases (evenly spaced among the steps) each year for teachers


    2. Reasonable COLAs

    So let’s look at how my proposed plan would have affected the teachers you mention.

    I – 4 year masters teacher
    A. In FY17 would get a step increase of 2.3% or $1151. That’s already more than you cite in your post because junior teachers currently get shafted by LCPS and the LEA.

    B. A reasonable COLA of 0.8% would add another $397 or so for a total of $1548 raise. So see, you would make out even better under my proposal that costs much less than what LCSB is proposing.

    II – a 9-year masters teacher
    C. In FY17 would get a step increase of $1249 or 2.3%.

    D. A reasonable COLA of 0.8% would add another $430 or so for a total of $1679. That’s roughly the same as what you are proposing.

    Now let’s look at what LCSB is actually doing
    III – a 15 year bachelors teacher
    E. In FY17 gets a combined step increase + COLA + adjustment of $2877! That’s nearly 71% more than the 9-year masters teacher above and it’s 166% more than a Step 2 teacher gets under the LCSB’s plan. How is that fair?

    What’s more, those step 15 teachers almost never leave and once you pass step 15, you must take a pay cut to transfer because other districts will only bring you in at step 15 max.

    IV – a step 28 teacher with bachelor (masters would be even more)
    F. In FY17 gets a combined step increase + COLA + adjustment of $3499! That’s nearly 108% more than the 9-year masters teacher above and it’s 223% more than a Step 2 teacher gets under the LCSB’s plan. How is that even remotely fair? It’s simply paying off teachers who are high up in the LEA and would have to take a massive pay cut to even think about transferring. That’s what Hornberger, Morse and Williams mean when they say we have to keep salaries “competitive”?

    Look, I understand we don’t teach Common Core so “close reading” and a firm grasp of concepts is not your strong suit, CareerSwitcher. So do you oppose Loudoun advertising the 18% in VRS contributions you receive as part of your compensation to the public? We can either (1) add the 18% into your salary before posting it online or (2) accept the fact that many (or even most) teachers retire at the ripe ol’ age of 52 with a $50K/yr pension.

    You may not like the facts, but they are the facts. I do support step increases and COLA. I don’t support board members giving out massive “adjustments” in the exact steps on which their spouses work, especially when they won’t even disclose it. Hornberger, Turgeon and DeKenipp are in for a rude awakening very soon.

  • 2016-02-23 at 10:20 pm

    SGP – your numbers are not based in reality. If you look at the pay scale for the last two years, for instance, a masters degree teacher with 4 years of experience got about a $1,000 raise from 2015 to 2106. This is only $20 a week. A more experienced teacher, say with a masters and 9 years in 2015 got a $33 per week raise for this year. And this is before teacher share of benefits so the actual impact is much lower.

    No teacher is getting wealthy with the steps and COLA! Teachers are not draining the system. You much publicized disdain for teachers just makes you look sad.

    I am not asking for you to support my financial security. I am simply asking you to stop bashing me for wanting to make ends meet.

  • 2016-02-23 at 9:21 pm

    lol David! You want rural zoning in the suburban policy area? That horse (and cow, and…) left the barn more than 20 years ago.

    There’s already 20 and 40 acre zoning in the rural policy area to protect that part of the county, so the growth has to go somewhere.

    The public utilities are in the suburban area, so that’s where the growth will continue to go.

    I’d let this line of thought go.

    (and btw, that’s not what you said the first time–downzone vs. NO USE zone. You are floundering on the land use issue and casting at straws. Sorry, but true.)

  • 2016-02-23 at 6:06 pm

    Mr. Dickinson, padding may occur with LCPS but it seems to me that they just as much underestimate enrollment for schools as well. So with padding or not, I’m not confident that their numbers are correct. Every time there’s a new school the board has to “fix” other schools’ enrollment as well. I understand that part of that is due to new housing developments that may be by-right or elsewise, but I have little confidence in LCPS’s ability to judge student population.

    I think that a member of LCPS, a member of the Sheriff’s department, and any other county agency with a stake in the results of Loudoun planning should have a seat at the table with the Planning Commission. Let everyone disucss how various applications impact our community as a whole. Let’s work together to address the issues facing the county.

  • 2016-02-23 at 1:01 pm

    Lots of misinformation in the presentation.

    1. Teachers in this budget get:
    a. Step increase
    b. 0.8% COLA increase (across the board increase in the salary scale)
    c. Additional salary bump for most steps (1-10 get extra 0.7% and 10-20 get extra 1.5% bump)

    For Hornberger and Turgeon to claim there was no COLA is a flat out lie. In addition, Hornberger’s own spouse received the largest “adjustment” in the salary changes a few years back (Higgins asked about it). In just 3 years, they received a 12% salary increase (not counting the VRS switch). Now, Hornberger is back at it again targeting the biggest salary bump for his own household but not even disclosing that conflict of interest to the public. That’s criminal.

    2. Buona was right that if you include the retiree health benefits in the per pupil numbers (just like salary, medical coverage, pensions, etc. are included), our FY16 number would rise from $12.7K to $13.0K. That’s very close to FFX $13.0K number and likely equal to once you consider that we have a bunch of junior teachers that hides the true cost.

    Folks recall the following:

    – for years and even until as recently as Nov-2015, LCPS reported that step increases cost $16.8M. But after I showed they were lying, the cost mysteriously dropped 40% to $10.4M in the Jan-2016 budget. No apologies for lying for so long or recouping the exaggerated costs from years past. And I had to take them to court to even get the salary data via FOIA to prove they were lying.

    – LCPS acknowledged that mid-year teachers were the least likely to leave (lowest attrition). Once a teacher reaches approx. step 26, there is a 60% chance he/she will leave (and likely retire) in the next four years. Our teachers can retire at 52 with a $50K/yr pension while the county employees must work till 65. But LCPS wants huge tax increases (as opposed to the one-half cent for the county) to fund an even plusher pension.

    – Nearly everything LCPS publishes is false. When asked how many of its teachers had each type of degree, LCPS claimed ~70% had bachelors only. But it was 70% with masters (a big difference with real costs associated to it). And it justified its “per pupil cost increases” based on “enrollment growth”. Say what?

    Audit those books, BOS. You can’t trust a word LCPS/LCSB says.

  • 2016-02-23 at 12:01 pm

    Barbara, what I’m saying is to downzone parcels so fewer houses can be built by-right. For instance, take parts of Ashburn and zone them Agricultural in order to cut the number of houses waaaaay down. The main point being to eliminate new houses. You can’t stop every house, but if you cut it from 1 housing unit per 1/2 acre to 1 housing unit per 20 acres then you’ve gone from 40 houses on 20 acres to 1 house on 20 acres. That it substantial taxpayer savings and solves an awful lot of Loudoun headaches.

    In fact, now is the perfect time. If the GA pushes through the proffer bill then, by downzoning now, you virtually guarantee it will never get up-zoned due to the limited proffers (if it passes). BAM! It’s the perfect solution and now is the perfect time to push for it.

  • 2016-02-23 at 11:36 am

    “Barbara, you are correct. The obvious retort to, ” which means land can be developed as it is zoned” is to re-zone parcels so that they can’t be developed by-right. With a new comprehensive plan on the horizon, now seems to be the time to do that.”

    I’m sorry, David D, you still don’t understand.

    What USE would you rezone them TO, that would allow for in effect, NO USE?

    As I said, we are a by right STATE. If a zoning classification allows for a farm stand on farm property by right, then someone with a farm can erect same, without anyone’s permission other than making sure it meets regulations and codes for proper construction, setback, etc.

    If it allows for one residential building per 1/2, 3, 5, 10, 20 (now you’re getting toward exclusionary zoning if you keep going, which means you may need to establish a housing authority by law, so be careful there too) acres, again, you can do that without anyone’s say-so by vote. Just do it to code.

    The scheduled review of the Comp Plan and any revisions resulting from that have ZERO effect on STATE law governing the ability to exercise by right usage.

    Sorry, but you have an incomplete understanding of how it exists, and thus how to “fix” it.

  • 2016-02-23 at 11:18 am

    I’m not sure LCPS isn’t padding their student numbers. I don’t know who makes the estimates, but I’d like their student growth estimates to be audited. I have a sneaking suspicion they are padding the numbers to wedge Full Day Kindergarten in without having to say the expansion is due to FDK.

    The obvious solution is to NOT expand FDK. Those FDK seats are taking seats that these newfound kids could use. By expanding FDK you are now creating a greater problem that is exacerbated by a higher than expected enrollment projections. You are also accelerating boundary changes that irritate just about everyone. I don’t think the public fully understands the unintended consequences of FDK.

  • 2016-02-23 at 11:11 am

    Barbara, you are correct. The obvious retort to, ” which means land can be developed as it is zoned” is to re-zone parcels so that they can’t be developed by-right. With a new comprehensive plan on the horizon, now seems to be the time to do that.

  • 2016-02-23 at 10:37 am

    Mr. Dickinson and Citizen A, the BoS has NO CONTROL over the pace of by right development.

    We are a by right state, which means land can be developed as it is zoned, with no legislative approval–it must meet all bars and codes, but does not get an up or down vote from anyone.

    This is a matter for the GA, if any change is to be made in that (and think long and hard–it isn’t just houses that would be affected, but any land use, business, agricultural, etc)

    It is one of the reasons those proffer bills were so awful: some people thought they would be GREAT, because they’d just mean nothing but by right. Ummm, well, here’s a drawback, that existed with that school of thought even before the proffer bills were voted. And to reduce what tools localities have in the zoning process? You were supportive of a hands-off approach, to some degree, on the bills discussion, David D.

    Can’t have it both ways, and what we have, and have always had, it by right development, which is a market-based decision on behalf of the property owner.

    Those unintended consequences kind of stink, eh?

  • 2016-02-23 at 9:53 am

    I agree with Mr. Dickinson on this. The Supervisors are in charge of development; all the School Board can do is respond to it. The BoS and School Board need to work closely to plan for development. Actually, ALL parties impacted by development need to be involved in the decision making process, whether it’s schools, EMS, law enforcement, or anything else that is impacted by development. Everyone should have a seat at the table so each proposed development can be discussed with relation to its full impact on Loudoun. I sure hope this is being done now, but it doesn’t seem like it is.

  • 2016-02-23 at 9:36 am

    By-right housing strikes again. So, why doesn’t the BoS address it? That is their prerogative.

    Where did all those kids come from indeed? If the political fliers I received last election were correct, then the previous Board approved a grand total of 1,000 housing units. But Loudoun is growing 1,000 people a MONTH. These numbers aren’t adding up and its frustrating all around.

    There must be enormous by-right housing being built and it needs to come to an end. A county with our infrastructure issues shouldn’t have any by-right housing whatsoever. But, by-right makes developers happy and it means politicians don’t have to be on record for voting for anything. It is a win-win for the protected class (and a lose-lose for citizens).

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