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Posted at 12:45 PM ET, 05/10/2010

'Streamlining' is fine, but it has its limits

By Peter Galuszka

Grabbing onto a popular, bipartisan trend, Gov. Bob McDonnell is set to "streamline" Virginia government. He has named a 31-member panel headed by the man who led President George H.W. Bush's unsuccessful reelection campaign in 1992.

There are good reasons to examine cutting state government. The state faces a multibillion budget shortfall, part of the $60 billion national shortfall that states face after the Great Recession, according to

States such as Louisiana, Massachusetts and Nebraska have examined cutbacks. In Washington state, Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire has been on a streamlining binge. She has eliminated 75 state commissions and shut down 25 driver's license centers, replacing them with online kiosks.

A Republican, McDonnell likes the idea of streamlining because it fits his political philosophy of promoting limited government. This could be his defining issue after four months of debacles that have left Virginia a national laughingstock.

But streamlining has its limits. Virginia already seems to be doing well with state government. The Pew Center on the States gave the state an A-minus, along with Utah and Washington. The average grade is B-minus. Neighbor Maryland got a B, and North Carolina got a B-minus. West Virginia got a C-plus. The grade deal with how well a state manages employees, budget, finance, information and infrastructure.

Previous Democratic Govs. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine did a pretty good job running the state. Pretending they didn't is counterproductive.

What Virginia needs even more than streamlining is jobs. McDonnell is on the case, but the commission he formed to explore job creation won't make recommendations until this fall.

Badly-hit areas such as Southside and Southwest Virginia with double-digit unemployment can't wait that long. McDonnell managed to pay up to $14 million in state money to get defense contractor Northrop Grumman to move 300 high-paying headquarters jobs from Los Angeles to Northern Virginia. Let's hope he can do something for out-of-work Virginia textile and furniture workers as well.

Peter Galuszka blogs at Bacon's Rebellion. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By Peter Galuszka  | May 10, 2010; 12:45 PM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Local blog network, Va. Politics, Virginia, development, economy, taxes  
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I'm all for streamlining the government. It's a bloated mess. But somehow a 31 person streamlining panel doesn't instill confidence.

Posted by: jy151310 | May 10, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

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