Saturday, January 09, 2010

News Virginian: General Assembly reps "taking the heat" for budget cuts

From the Friday Waynesboro News Virginian we hear about the legislative hearing held Thursday in Harrisonburg relaying the need to cut budgets in light of dire economic news at the state level. Reportedly about 100 people turned out, and many appeared to be government employees protesting budget cuts.

The private sector has taken a hard financial hit lately. My husband's employer has seen employees take a 15% pay cut since the first of 2009 ... management has taken a 28% pay cut plus a mandatory unpaid day a month off. A number of local businesses have had hundreds of layoffs the past year ... some have completely closed down.

From the NV article:
Augusta County Commissioner of the Revenue Jean Shrewsbury told state legislators the change would take away elected officials’ accountability to the citizens and place the assessment and collection of revenue directly under the local government.

Shrewsbury said such a change would remove the voice of the people doing assessment and collection.

“This provides a check and balance between the government who sets the budget and spends it and the part of government who determines what the tax assessment role will be this year,’’ she said.
Remove the voice of the people? Similar to Augusta County suing pro bono lawyer Francis Chester who is representing 10,500 Augusta citizens over outrageous real estate assessments?

A reader to the NV website article left a comment:
You “ain’t” seen nothing yet. These projected cuts in law enforcement funds are nothing compared to the blast being passed by Congress. Eventually we may come to the realization there there is no money. None! It all goes to pay interest to the Chinese on the national debt.
It's time for government to wake up and smell the coffee.

Meanwhile, Friday's NV editorial "Spending's dead end" rings the bell of alarm at the dire financial straits of the Commonwealth:
Never in a history dating to Patrick Henry, who became the state’s first governor July 5, 1776, has Old Dominion encountered a biennial spending chasm of such breadth. An aside: Former Democratic Gov. Mark Warner frequently cited a $6-billion gap he said was left him by Republican predecessor Jim Gilmore. Two points must be made in response: First, that amount covered three years rather than two as in the current case, and second, that deficit largely was driven by new spending that revenues were insufficient to match.
No one who relies on state money reasonably can expect to be spared. But the cries will ring from one side of the state to the next, from interest groups and agencies who say they’re wrongly being gutted.
The private sector has been hemmoraging jobs the past year while government has not. Government has not cinched its belt or reined in spending. In Augusta County, pleas from citizens to the supervisors to cease unnecessary spending have fallen on deaf ears and the spending continues ... as it does at the state level:
Since 2000, Virginia’s budget has almost doubled, increasing from $21.4 billion annually to $38 billion. From 1999 to 2007, the budget grew by at least 5 percent every year and the average increase was almost 9 percent. Not once did the total budget, which essentially represents spending, decrease.
The bottom line? Government officials must realize citizens cannot continue upward taxing trends and unnecessary spending sprees. Because citizens are losing jobs or dealing with cutbacks, losing homes in the mortgage crisis, and reeling under ever-expanding taxes at local, state, and federal levels, they expect their elected representatives to exercise the same fiscal restraint.

The NV editorial's conclusion about Virginia's budget is spot on:
A decade’s excesses have snared Virginia by her hindquarters. Interest groups and a tottering bureaucracy must live with the reality they once thwarted but which now refuses their denials. Welcome to the world of others. [emphasis added]

1 comment:

Joy Jackson said...

Absolutely! It's time to trim all the fat and cut government job pay. Everyone needs to share the burden. If we are to spread the wealth, why not spread the lack of wealth!