VA Budget Crisis

Downsizing Local Government

Today a local city council member pitched some ideas to begin a discussion about sources of potential cost savings. To be fair, it was something of a brainstorming session and not a fully fleshed formal proposal; meant to provide a starting point for a discussion that will inevitably end up in formal council session. The suggestions are informative and this review is presented with no intent to draw fire to the messenger. They help us anticipate the consequences of changes to funding government as we have known it.

Some of the ideas to help make it through the next five years:

  • Freeze salaries for city employees
  • Freeze hiring except for public safety positions
  • Reduce 100 positions per year for the next 5 years through attrition
  • Reduce the undesignated fund balance
  • Reduce the Public Utilities fund balance by assessing a right-of-way use fee
  • Reduce open space expenditures
  • Have Special Service Districts reimburse the police department for overtime
  • Reduce higher tier landscaping expenditures
  • Extend life of vehicles by a year
  • Halt all non-critical capital improvement projects
  • Reduce employee (retiree) health costs

My trip to the Legislature

I joined some of my fellow students at NOVA for our annual Legislative Trip to Richmond. Our purpose in going was to advocate for Community College funding to be preserved. After visiting with some State Senators and Delegates, we sat in on the House while they were in session.

Bob Marshall Continues to Obstruct Virginia's Legislative Process

Many in the House of Delegates have become increasingly uneasy about the stream of controversial bills that have come across the floor, and some conservatives within the House are feeling the heat.

The ax has fallen particularly hard on prolific ideologues like Del. Bob Marshall, who routinely files north of 60 bills, many devoted to abortion, stem cells and various women’s health issues. Even many conservative Republicans prefer not to be forced to vote on the record on these hot-button measures, which stir up interest groups but have no chance for passage.

Is Governor Kaine Misrepresenting His Budget Amendments?

The Washington Post and now the Richmond Times Dispatch have published an editorial entitled “Kaine’s Budget: Deep Cuts for Difficult Times." Both publications fell for the Governor’s spin, failing to compare the facts and the Governor's rhetoric.

Is Virginia really in bad shape?

With the $2.9 billion biennial budget shortfall hanging over our heads, I have to ask the question is Virginia really in bad shape? At least from where I sit in NoVA, the economic situation does not appear to be dire. So, I went about looking up some economic indicators for the state of Virginia. Below are my findings and my thoughts about our fiscal situation.

LaCombe against Kaine's proposed cuts to education

I've been investigating the proposed cuts to education that Governor Tim Kaine released earlier this week. It shouldn't be surprised that education would be taking a large, $400 million, hit in light of the state's $2+ billion shortfal. Everyone understands that education is a major expense for the state, and that it's one of the first programs targeting when budget cuts need to be made.

Even before the proposed cuts, John LaCombe, candidate in the special election in the 81st, has stood on the side of preserving and expanding funding for education. It didn't come as any surprise to me that LaCombe is standing firmly against the $400 million in proposed cuts in state spending on education. Here's a statement his campaign released earlier:

John stands with students, parents, and teachers against cuts in education funding.

Deeds: Education and Meeting the Challenges of Tomorrow

PHOTO - Buried in a Dec. 12 story on NVDaily about Creigh Deeds’ tough primary campaign was this little gem about the coming budget shortfall:

“But while some Republican legislators are talking quietly about cuts to education in the face of the $3 billion shortfall, Deeds says that's a bad idea.”

Can Republican really be talking about cuts to education? Can someone explain to me in what world this makes sense?

"At the end of the day, you don't want to make cuts that are going to erode people's confidence in the future," the article quotes Deeds as saying. "The kind of cuts that I think that would do that are cuts to K-12 education. We've been going on the cheap on higher education for the past umpteen years. We have to be prepared to meet the challenges of tomorrow. I don't think we can do that if we say, 'Oh no the sky is falling, we've got to cut education this year.'"

Creigh is exactly right on that issue.

Although the budget problems will not go away on their own.