All these years General Assembly tax and spenders tried to out bid each other for the highest tax increase possible to pay to improve Virginia's transportation system. The most partisan governor in recent years, Tim Kaine, even closed down rest areas to make it seem as if we couldn't even perform basic highway functions, just to prove his tax-increasing point. Well, now. A just completed private audit of VDOT, the results of which were released this afternoon (Washington Post), shows that while Mr. Kaine was robo-calling into House of Delegate districts to bludgeon Republicans who wouldn't support a tax increase — many of whom called for this very audit first before any new taxpayer money was thrown at VDOT — his administration wasn't even spending the money it had! As in about $500 million in money laying around.
This story already is making national headlines as a perfect example of government inefficiency (Business Week). Unfortunately, it proves too many people's suspicions and confirms much of the reputation VDOT has curiously earned over the years. To be sure, there are many angles to this story, and just taking this money and putting it to work isn't as easy as it appears. It also may put the clamps on real government and VDOT reform (we have the cash, now, no longer a need to change things) as Norm Leahy explains at Tertium Quids. Mind you, this wasn't a performance audit, as to whether the state has planned wisely and where roads and systems should go, but a spending audit. But the McDonnell adminstrationgets kudos for at least finding these dead bodies. For his part, the DNC chairman took time out from slamming Congressional Republicans to claim his "reforms" led to the "saved" cash. Un-huh.
There will be more about this story and hopefully it will lead to some good somewhere down the road. At the very least, it may be the most significant evidence yet that discredits the idea that massive (unchecked) spending by the government works, that the government knows what it is doing, and that the answer to every ill is a knee-jerk reaction to siphon off families' hard earned money for centrally planned, government-run schemes. Somehow, we think, they'll still come back for more next year, having either still not learned their lesson, or displaying about $500 million worth of chutzpah.