Just a month and a half after the budget is adopted we learn there’s a shortfall that might amount to a billion dollars this fiscal biennium. The dogged persistence of Governor Kaine’s thoroughly reckless fiscal behavior is approaching a level of pure absurdity, and is a thorough repudiation of the vapid rhetoric that he and Senate Democrats have been employing to justify irresponsible tax and spending hikes. Outrageous doesn’t even begin to describe this.
In 2007 the Kaine administration made several “math errors” that forced the Commonwealth to figure out how to cover budget shortfalls amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars. You’d think after being so thoroughly embarrassed, Kaine would exercise a little more caution with the budget, but you;d be wrong.
During this year’s session of the General Assembly, Republicans quickly called foul when Governor Kaine’s Finance Secretary Jody Wagner projected an absolutely untenable revenue forecast as the departure point for budget negotiations last January, following on this record of fiscal failure. A subsequent forecast resembling reality a bit closer encouraged Kaine to cut some of his additional spending somewhat, but he and his Senate allies still insisted on increasing spending during a time of economic uncertainty and hoping upon hope that second year revenues would be substantially greater than those in 2008-2009. Unfortunately for them (and us as well), that hasn’t been the case at all, but that’s not much of a surprise.
As Bacon’s Rebellion points out, the additional spending has allowed the state to go on a hiring spree in our public universities which brought on an additional five thousand employees while the Governor tried to not spend hundreds of millions of dollars set aside in the General Fund for transportation. Now that this budget crisis has been disclosed, Right Wing Liberal discovers that Kaine has no intention at all of protecting transportation spending, but wants to ensure we follow through on spending increases in education and human services. Funny, I never heard a justification for tax hikes last year that alleged that we needed to raise taxes in order to spend more money on education and entitlement spending.
Secondly, I found something very interesting in the discussion of potential budget cuts (N-V again, emphasis added):
Kaine’s options for managing the latest gyrations of the budget will likely be shaped by his priorities. Since revenues began their retreat in spring 2007, Kaine and the legislature have generally sought to spare education, human services and law enforcement.
Notice anything missing from that list? Say, transportation? Just less than two months ago, Kaine called the General Assembly into special session because of transportation funding issues. We were told this was so important that we had to raise taxes. Yet when it comes to the things that would be spared the chopping block, transportation doesn’t make the list.
So once again it is demonstrated that when Kaine and his allies agitate for tax hikes saying we need to raise money for transportation, that’s about the last thing additional revenues will be directed to. Instead, the Kaine crowd throws money at entitlements while starving transportation so they can circle back and cry that we don’t have enough money to even maintain the roads we currently have, all for the demonstrated purpose of growing state government and increasing entitlements.
If Democrats are trying to demonstrate how they are worthy of shouldering the responsibility for the finances of the Commonwealth, they’re doing a lousy job of it. I’m rather pleased that the Special Session ended up halting Kaine’s proposed tax increases for transportation, as there’s little doubt about what those tax revenues would have actually been applied to.
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