A budget surplus on the eyes of the poor
Gov. Robert F. McDonnell is hailed nationwide for managing to turn a $1.8 billion budget deficit into a $220 million surplus just after taking office.
But critics noted that McDonnell apparently used smoke and mirrors tricks to achieve his surplus, such as deferring scheduled payments for the state employees' pension fund.
Now comes the latest blow: McDonnell, a Republican, achieved his budget surplus on the eyes of the poor.
The state's new two-year budget saves $764,000 by cutting routine vision checkups for those on Medicaid. That not only affects poor people, it also cuts at optometrists who handle about 70 percent of all primary eye care in the state. Their lobby, the Virginia Optometric Association, wants McDonnell to put back the funding which he could do if Congress approves more funding
The strange thing about the budget surplus business is not so much that McDonnell is trying to gain a national reputation by pursuing ways to do it. The odd part is that he's doing it through tricks that are so easy to spot.
It didn't take very long for my Local Blogger Network colleague Paige Winfield Cunningham to call McDonnell on deferring state budget payments of $137 million in the fourth quarter of 2010 and $620 million in the 2010-12 budget.
Crafting an accounting house of cards is one thing (although CEOs face jail time if they do it). But getting your name all over the country as a successful, budget-cutting Republican governor, a rising star, by denying the poor basic health care is, frankly, creepy. A spokesman for McDonnell says he is studying restoring the cuts. The governor should do the right thing and do just that.
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.
| August 9, 2010; 3:35 PM ET
Categories: HotTopic, Local blog network, Va. Politics, Virginia, disability pay, economy, health care, public health
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