Is The Governor Fiddling?Oct 10, 2008
Is Governor Tim Kaine fiddling while Richmond burns? While he lays off 570 state government employees (see Washington Post, here), many of whom are in the all important corrections field, because of a budget deficit he caused by ignoring projections of a severe revenue shortfall so he could start new, unwanted programs such as Pre-K education, His Excellency is heading this weekend to Arizona and Colorado to campaign for Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama. It was his hyper campaigning for Senator Obama during the primaries, then his self-promotion campaign to get himself on the Democrat ticket as its vice presidential nominee, that many say got Governor Kaine into this budget mess. That is to say, he took his eyes off his duties for the glamor of presidential politics. Whether that's true or not, it is certain that he obstinately refused to listen to many sane voices in the General Assembly to scale back his spending plan (the budget is based on revenue projections). He didn't and here we are, eliminating security jobs and closing prisons instead of eliminating social engineering programs.
More savings Governor Kaine said he's found are in the elimination of unfilled jobs. How this saves money since no salary is spent on people who aren't working is confusing at best. Phantom savings? But don't forget about his cutting the bottled water shipments to Capitol Square offices (see Richmond Times-Dispatch, here).
The governor also will use bonds instead of cash to pay for construction which will pile up further debt to be repaid later. Funny how it's fine to use debt to build monuments — uhhh, make that buildings to name after politicians — but can't be used for transportation which is a necessity and government responsibility. It also begs the question, why is our government so big that we are constructing more state buildings? (Buying them, too: The state just bought the high-rise Verizon building in downtown Richmond.)
Another major component of Governor Kaine's budget balancing is his raid on the Rainy Day Fund, which is budget surplus; in other words, our tax money which just sits in an account, not to be refunded when we have annual surpluses, but to be used to continue feeding the government beast when the economy turns south and the politicians don't think they can tax us any further.
Governor Kaine's actions haven't been too popular, to say the least, with state government employees and others. Now the interesting part really comes into play: Will his barnstorming for Senator Obama while the state's budget deficit explodes have any backlash on Senator Obama in Virginia? It's a tune we're waiting to hear the fiddler play while the fire rages on.