BILL BOLLING ON GOVERNOR KAINE’S STATE OF THE COMMONWEALTH ADDRESS
Bolling hits the nail on the head.
RICHMOND - Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling has issued the following statement in response to Governor Kaine’s State of the Commonwealth address:
“As usual, the Governor delivered an excellent speech tonight, highlighting his priorities for the 2008 legislative session.
“Republicans look forward to working with Governor Kaine to adopt revisions to the state budget for the current fiscal year and a new budget for the upcoming biennium. We will also work with the Governor to make investments in important state programs, like mental health care and higher education. However, we have serious concerns about how the Governor proposes to pay for many of his new initiatives.
“In the upcoming biennium the Governor has proposed hundreds of millions of dollars in new state spending for expansive pre-K programs and other initiatives in health care, mental health care, child services programs and higher education. While many of these are worthwhile programs that Republicans support, we cannot move forward with all of them at the same time unless we know we can pay for them responsibly.
“The Governor would pay for these new initiatives by raiding the state’s savings account, diverting money away from needed transportation projects, overly optimistic revenue projections and the excessive use of debt. That is a formula for disaster.
“We should not withdraw money from the state’s savings account to eliminate a budget shortfall while our economy is still growing. While it may be constitutionally permissible to do so, it does not represent sound policy. We should only withdraw money from our savings account to address serious financial challenges.
“Likewise, we should not use money that has been earmarked for transportation construction to fund other government programs. This violates a trust we have tried to establish with the people of Virginia. We should only use taxpayer funds for the purposes for which they were intended.
“In the 2010 fiscal year the Governor has projected economic growth of 6.6%. That’s twice as fast as our economy is currently growing. We should not base our budget on such an overly optimistic revenue forecast. While we hope that economic conditions improve and our economy will grow at a rate of 6.6% in the 2010 fiscal year, we cannot be certain of that.
“If the Governor’s revenue projections do not materialize we will be unable to afford the new programs he has proposed, and we will face massive budget shortfalls in the second year of the biennium. A wiser course is to wait and see how economic growth improves before embarking on so many costly new spending initiatives.
“The Governor’s budget includes $3.2 billion in new state debt. Once again, many of the Governor’s recommendations are for very worthwhile initiatives, such as needed capitol investments in our colleges and universities. However, if all of the Governor’s debt recommendations are approved they will cost the Commonwealth $300M a year in additional debt service by the year 2014. This is another significant financial commitment that must be taken into consideration when determining our overall spending priorities.
“Budgets are about priorities, and in challenging economic times we must determine what our most pressing needs are and focus our resources toward those needs; and we must make certain that our budget actions are cautious, prudent and reflective of the economic uncertainties we currently face.
“We cannot build our budget on a foundation that includes excessive spending and seeks to pay for it by raiding the state’s savings account, diverting money away from needed transportation projects, overly optimistic revenue projections and the excessive use of debt. That is a formula for disaster.”