When running for governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell said, “The worst thing you can do during a recession is try to tax yourself to prosperity,” and that Virginia has “a spending problem more than we have a taxation problem.” To this I would add only that it would be best if government were fiscally disciplined in both good times and bad.
Virginia’s state government is facing a shortfall of $4 billion over the next two years. A few weeks after reaching the governor’s mansion, McDonnell submitted a list of budget proposals to the legislature. These include mandatory furloughs, staff reductions, financial aid cuts, park closings, and hundreds of millions in cuts to spending on health and human services and K-12 education.
Like Chris Christie in New Jersey, Virginia’s new governor is facing fervent opposition to any spending cuts. Unlike Christie, Governor McDonnell is less able or perhaps just less willing to act on his own to make any spending cuts, saying he is eager to collaborate with lawmakers.
Virginians must express their support for fiscal common sense and hope for the best. They could do a lot more if the state had a statewide initiative and referendum process; then they themselves could pass restraints on taxes and spending, at the ballot box. Unfortunately, when it comes to citizen initiative rights, Virginia gets an F.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.