Where To Cut The State Budget? Here's Two Ideas (Or, The Need For Budget Transparency Now)Dec. 21, 2008
When I appeared on Tertium Quids Radio Friday (click here) with fellow guest Nick Howard, host Norm Leahy asked us where we would make cuts to balance the in-deficit Virginia budget. I offered the observation that the deficit is about the exact size of the new spending over the previous budget's baseline, i.e., when revenue is flat, you don't spend more. Imagine that! (Especially when it's people's money). But here are two good specific cuts, not only because they will save money, but because the principle involved is sound and just. First, all state money to Planned Parenthood must be eliminated, immediately. An organization that makes millions killing babies should not be on the government dole (see here). Regardless of what you think about abortion, if it is such a "private matter" then it should not be publicly financed.
It would save us at least $200,000 a year in Virginia. We can't say for sure because that's all we can find for sure. The rest is tucked away in certain nooks and crannies of state bureaucracy under grants and contracts that are not always easy to find, for various reasons.
This brings us to another, but not unrelated topic (also discussed Friday): Budget transparency. It's not too early to bug your delegate and senator about voting for online budget legislation this coming General Assembly session so we easily find where our money goes. Simple line items for entire agencies doesn't cut it anymore. We need to know which vendors are employed, where the grant money goes and why, and what contracts are offered and to whom.
Here's another example, courtesy of Republican Attorney General candidate Dave Foster. Friday, he released a letter he sent to Jean Cunningham, chairman of the Virginia State Board of Elections and all board members. First, as a matter of principle and dignity, he urged the board to count the hundreds of absentee ballots cast by Virginians serving overseas in the military. (The courts have ruled that Virginia is at fault here, but did not offer a remedy, unfortunately.) As if their votes not counting isn't bad enough, get a load out of this:
According to Foster:
"In response to a complaint filed by the Department of Justice, the Board is refusing to count even those ballots that were filled out by Election Day. As you read this, your tax dollars are supporting the legal fees of a private law firm that is defending the Board's refusal to count these ballots." (Emphasis added. See full statement here.)
We don't know the figure, but one dollar is too much. Governor Kaine (contact here) should order an immediate halt to this horrible insult to those who serve and defend our country.
There. That's two ideas. Plus budget transparency. Plus holding back the increase over the last budget. Pretty soon, we'll see surpluses again.