The responsibility of meeting school construction costs has shifted out of reach for some localities in Virginia. Many schools, lawmakers say, have fallen into disrepair, while others need modernization.

In recent years, some lawmakers have said supporting school capital projects is the onus of local governments. In response, some localities have successfully asked the legislature to allow them to increase their sales tax to fund school capital projects pending approval by voters in a referendum. However, legislative efforts to support other extensions of that right – including one for Prince Edward and for the entire state – remain in limbo. To understand why, let’s start from the beginning with Dillon’s Rule.

A sales tax for Halifax
In 2019, Halifax County, once known for its textile and tobacco products, was the first locality authorized by the General Assembly to impose a 1% sales tax to pay for capital projects at Halifax schools.

A statewide expansion?
The legislature has since passed similar legislation for eight other localities to impose a 1% sales tax for school construction and renovation. In addition to Halifax, the list includes the counties of Charlotte, Gloucester, Henry, Mecklenburg, Northampton, Patrick and Pittsylvania and the city of Danville.

Legislation to impose sales tax for capital school projects is uncertain
Raising taxes is not something that is embraced among Republicans, Sen. Tommy Norment, R-Williamsburg, told the Mercury on Tuesday.

However, in some cases, Republicans have supported legislation authorizing certain localities to impose a sales tax increase.

This story was reported and written by The Virginia Mercury. Read more here.