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McDonnell lays out specifics on budget, behind closed doors

Rosalind Helderman

Senate Democrats continue to rail about Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) not making public his suggestions for how to cut an additional $2 billion from the state's budget. But we now know this: It's not like he doesn't have suggestions.

We understand that when Secretary of Finance Ric Brown met with the Democratic caucus earlier this week, he read down a list of specific cuts McDonnell is recommending.

Apparently he spoke from a hand-written list, as senators busily jotted down notes. The suggestions included $700 million more from education over the next two years, about $300 million from Health and Human Resources and $700 million from employee compensation, largely from changes to the state's retirement plan and significant furlough time for state employees.

The Senate Democrats told Brown they'd take the governor's thoughts under advisement, but immediately asked for them to be put into writing and made public. Brown responded that he would take their request to the governor.

McDonnell expressed some exasperation to reporters Wednesday about the repeated calls from the Senate for him to put forward his ideas for cutting the budget. "I think we have given them a number of ideas. I'll continue to be specific with them as we go forward. I've made some recommendations already this week," he said.

"They're upset because I've ruled out tax increases on the people of Virginia in the middle of a recession. And so I've limited the options which is to spending. I know they may not be happy about that. They have to decide do they want to cut spending or do they want to raise taxes. And that's their choice."

McDonnell has been trying to build ties to the Democratic-led body. Last night, he invited the whole chamber to the mansion for drinks, a social event made a touch awkward by the killing of two McDonnell priorities on the senate floor Wednesday.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  February 11, 2010; 9:14 AM ET
Categories:  General Assembly 2010 , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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Comments

FYI, McDonnell has his eye on the White House. The governorship is just a stepping stone. BTW, tinkering with the retirement plan is political suicide.

Do something about all of the deadbeats collecting welfare benefits and the immense number of illegal aliens weighing on our social services and schools.

Posted by: TooManyPeople | February 11, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Rosalind, while I commend you for finally pointing out some facts related to the current budget, you should also do a little fact checking. McDonnell chides the Democrats for wanting to raise taxes "in the middle of a recession." This is red meat for his fellow Republicans and whoever else support him. But the problem with this statement is that he is flat out lying. We are not in the middle of a recession. The previous two quarters showed growth in the GDP. We are in a recovery.

The only way to maintain this recovery is to create jobs. Firing and furloughing state employees who are currently filling at least two positions each won't create jobs. And cutting education $700 million dollars more on top of the already draconian cuts that will go into effect with this budget will destroy school systems and create an under-educated work force that won't be able to compete for jobs in a global market.

Do you think China, India and Brazil are cutting education? When their next generation of highly educated workers join their labor force, we will have the 4th largest economy in the world.

Thanks, Bobby Boy. Good job.

Posted by: thuff7 | February 11, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

"Do something about all of the deadbeats collecting welfare benefits and the immense number of illegal aliens weighing on our social services and schools."

Well, we can fully educate them and make them highly productive members of our society who pay taxes, form innovative businesses, create jobs and make this a better place for all.

Or you can continue to be a racist demagogue with nothing to do but blame everyone but yourself for your own shortcomings.

Posted by: thuff7 | February 11, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I totally agree with TooMany People. While we're at it, let's go ahead and cut the corporate welfare that our bleeding the communities dry as well.

Posted by: DownwithDisease | February 11, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

DownwithDisease wrote "I totally agree with TooMany People. While we're at it, let's go ahead and cut the corporate welfare that our bleeding the communities dry as well."

Now when you say things like this, do you get this information from a bumper sticker or a campaign speech or do you have references to actual statistics that show that when compared to creating jobs and boosting the retirement savings [401(k)s] of the average citizen, corporations come out ahead?

Of course you won't get the real facts and statistics from the Post or the politicians. Too boring. But making statements like this without checking the facts is the height of ignorance.

Posted by: thuff7 | February 11, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Put it another way: Do you really think our communities will be better off if we interfere with Intel's ability to create new processors? You can be darn sure that BIC (Brazil, India and China) are subsidizing their corporations and voila, their people's standard of living is going nowhere but up.

The answer is in education, an investment towards the future. There is a guaranteed return on investment in education. The facts show it. These crazy Virginia politicians and the legions of zombiesque supporter who parrot their every slogan are planning on crippling our education with 25-30% cuts.

Facts from UNESCO"

"It has become clear that educational attainment is not only vital to the economic
well-being of individuals but also for that of nations. Access to and completion
of education is a key determinant in the accumulation of human capital and
economic growth. Educational outcomes also extend beyond individual and
national income. Education is a force that develops well-rounded and engaged
citizens, and builds more cohesive and participatory societies."

Posted by: thuff7 | February 11, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

According to a Klute institute study, Virginia invested $4,154,135,000 on education in 2001, but received a return of $116,277,784,316 on that investment. That's a rate of return equal to 27.99%. (How's your mutual fund doing?)

Yet in the current and past 3 fiscal years, Virginia's government has cut that investment by at least 15% each year. The current proposal is to make huge cuts. Those cuts in the current year are offset by the Obama stimulus money. In FY 2012, school systems will collapse.

So tell me please, why are Virginia's elected officials monkeying around with that?

Posted by: thuff7 | February 11, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

thuff7 wrote: "So tell me please, why are Virginia's elected officials monkeying around with that?"

Because to raise taxes is against repub's philosphy. Cutting education funding will ensure that they have a continuous supply of sheep to believe the "no tax" mantra. Cutting spending without raising revenue is just another foolhardy way to go.

Posted by: hadelaide | February 11, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

"Cutting education funding will ensure that they have a continuous supply of sheep to believe the 'no tax' mantra."

And dammit, it seems to work. An echo from across the fields of snow: "Baa."

Posted by: thuff7 | February 11, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

"Cutting education funding will ensure that they have a continuous supply of sheep to believe the 'no tax' mantra."

And create the opportunity to give those funds, instead, to private schools - largely conservative Christian schools. Which is just what McD & Co. really want to do. So much for the educational futures of Virginians (still a majority) who are not fundamentalist Bible-thumpers.

Posted by: nan_lynn | February 11, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

How come Va. Teabaggers aren't complaining about this being done behind closed doors? How come their not out there demonstrating about transparency? Guess it's because it's the Republicans doing it. It does matter which side does it, doesn't it? That's just politics AND it's obvious.

Posted by: mcdonalsherry | February 11, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

The tea baggers are a group of racists being led by Dick Armey and supporters. The changes being proposed by McDonnell are minor to what they are backing for the nation. One major change is the privatization of Medicare and Social Security. Governor McDonnell knew he was not telling the voters the truth when he was campaigning. Oh! Let’s not forget allowing a person to be discriminated against because of their sex orientation.

And this friend is the beginning!

Posted by: sun52shine | February 11, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

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