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Virginia will spend surplus on state employee bonus, roads, bay cleanup

Anita Kumar

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) announced Thursday that Virginia will spend its budget surplus on a bonus for state employees, cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, transportation and education.

McDonnell told legislators the state will spend $82.2 million on a 3 percent bonus for state employees, $18.7 million for education, $60.4 million for roads and $36.4 million for Virginia's Water Quality Improvement Fund, which is used for the Chesapeake Bay cleanup. State employees have not received a raise since November 2007.

Other money will be spent on previous obligated accounts, such as snow removal. McDonnell has until Nov. 1 to recommend to spend a remaining $87.5 million.

Virginia ended the fiscal year with a surplus of about $403.2 million -- almost twice the previous estimate, state officials said earlier this week.

About $228 million was generated through tax collections, and the rest through state agencies' unspent balances. Most of the money from tax collections -- $220 million -- was announced in July. But the unspent balances were unexpected.

McDonnell made his announcement in his annual speech to the House Appropriations and Senate Finance committees -- one of his three major speeches to the General Assembly. In past years, former Democratic governor Tim Kaine's annual speeches have centered on budget cuts.

Several legislators had encouraged McDonnell to repeal accounting maneuvers used when legislators wrote the budget in the spring -- accelerating sales tax payments by businesses and delaying payments to the Virginia Retirement System.

"I share Gov. McDonnell's excitement about the steady improvement in Virginia's economy," Del. Ben Cline (R-Rockbridge) said. "But before we rush to spend any surplus, we should first put our fiscal house in order...By dedicating a portion of any future surplus toward removing these provisions from the state budget, the governor can demonstrate Virginia's continued commitment to fiscal responsibility, preserve our reputation as the best-managed state in the Nation, and continue Virginia on the road to economic recovery."

Colleges and universities that did not spend all their funds are allowed to keep their balances if they achieve certain management standards, said Robert Vaughn, staff director for the House Appropriations Committee. But McDonnell can recommend to the General Assembly how to spend other money.

The General Assembly closed a $4 billion shortfall when writing the $78 billion two-year budget for fiscal 2011 and 2012 with no general-tax increase but did include several fees and hundreds of millions in cuts, including to health care, schools and public safety.

In July, Virginia became one of at least 10 states that had reported finishing the fiscal year in the black.

The revenue outlook was brightened largely because of higher individual and corporate income-tax withholdings, signs of a stabilizing economy. Revenue dropped just 0.6 percent instead of the projected 2.3 percent.

By Anita Kumar  |  August 19, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate , Timothy M. Kaine , Transportation  
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Next: McDonnell's speech to the General Assembly on the budget

Comments

Since when are state employees entitled to bonuses? This is not the private sector. The surplus is a direct result of over taxing. So our hard earned money gets taken through taxes to provide state employees who already receive a plethora of good benefits (maybe a pension?) a bonus that exceeds those of us who actually work in the private sector. This is outrageous. Atleast, put it toward a program like schools or roads. Let's keep in mind how useful the state employees were in the last year, particularly with the snow. This is obsurd.

Posted by: mai1231 | August 19, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Make it a raise instead of a bonus. It's been four years now.

Posted by: MillionSix | August 19, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

State employee's do not receive cost of living adjustments?

Posted by: rmart2 | August 19, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

What kind of IDIOT is this guy? Has he ever heard of saving some of the surplus budget money so the next time the state goes in the red, there will be some money to fall back onto? Is this how most families live; spend every dime they make? What a complete jerk - off.

Posted by: smash44 | August 19, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

What, he's going to spend the surplus? Doesn't sound very conservative to me. He should be giving it back to the consituents of Virginia, or saving it for the next budget crisis.

Posted by: nickandjeannene1 | August 19, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

As a poorly paid state employee, I can attest that we have not gotten a cost-of-living (COLA) increase since 2007. We do get good benefits, but our annual salaries are 20-30% lower than the private sector.

A 3% one-time bonus taxed at 38.4% equals a whole $688.24 for me. We all would have preferred a 1% raise or COLA increase to a one-time bonus.

Posted by: npazcruzat | August 19, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

What complete BS!! Fairfax County schools have cut teachers and support staff, cut tranportation so that elementary children sit 3 kids to a 39" seat and increased by 1/2 mile the walking radius for schools in areas with NO SIDEWALKS. And the best way this fool can spend a surplus is bonuses?!

Not to mention road expansion in the Fort Belvoir area, where an estimated 20,000 jobs are being located. Apparently adding 20,000 people to an already ridiculously congested area is not of importance to the state either. ARGH.

Posted by: Momiac | August 19, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

My salary in private sector has been decreased in the last 4 years. My house value went down. My property tax is up. Why are the state employees get the bonus? I don't get it.

Posted by: nevercheck | August 19, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: rmart2 "State employee's do not receive cost of living adjustments?"
----------
Nope we sure don't. And we are in general paid about 14-18% less (almost 21% less) in NoVA alone) than people doing the same job in the private sector.

Cost of living hasn't been re-evaluated in the salary calculation tables for almost a decade. At least for the state university staff (yes, we are all state employees as well)


Posted by: schnauzer2 | August 19, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

"The surplus is a direct result of over taxing"
----------------------
Nope, its fancy words that mean nothing. When they created the state budget they assumed that only about 60-75% of the taxes due would actually get paid. Apparently less people evaded this year and now we have more money than we expected. Not to mention McDonnel Deffred payemtns into several pension funds that are suopposed to happen each year. So its really not "extra money" its just been renamed.

Posted by: schnauzer2 | August 19, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Quoted from mai1231:

Atleast, put it toward a program like schools or roads. Let's keep in mind how useful the state employees were in the last year, particularly with the snow. This is obsurd.

Yes, we need more money for teachers so that at least (two words) we know how to spell "absurd".

I am slightly impressed that the gov didn't immediately push to lower taxes, though he still has some surplus with which to do so. If the nadir of recent governors is Gilmore, McDonnell is thus far above that low water mark. The attorney general on the other hand...

Posted by: Old_Mose | August 19, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

What complete BS!! Fairfax County schools have cut teachers and support staff,
------------------------
That is Fairfax County's budget issue. They made the desicion to cut their education dollars instead of elsewhere. Non of this "surplus" came from the county budgets.

It came from more people and companies paying the taxes they actually owed then was expected. How they can call less tax evation a surplus, i don't get, but accounting has some stupid definitions.

Posted by: schnauzer2 | August 19, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Hmm. Virginia has a surplus in its budget. Why did the rest of the country have to bail them out for a stupid little snowstorm this past winter that they weren't prepared for (or didn't think they should pay for)? Seems like they should reimburse the federal government.

Posted by: shawk996 | August 19, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

They should really put the money toward reversing all the cuts in school spending, including the massive cuts to universities like UVA, W&M, and Virginia Tech who are in danger of loosing their high academic rankings

Posted by: graciejane4 | August 19, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Bonuses for public workers? I guess he's buying votes for the GOP.

Posted by: jckdoors | August 19, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

I am a Virginia State worker. I haven't received a raise since 2007 and there were two years within the previous ten that we didn't get raises either. Just like "nevercheck", my house value went down, my property taxes went up, my insurance payments and co-pays went up. My "bottom line" for social security (if it still exists when I retire) is also effected by no raises. This is a one time bonus of 3% which in my case comes to less than $600 after taxes. This is after working for the Commonwealth for 18 years. Why are so many of you begrudging your neighbors a living wage? Don't we also pay the same taxes you pay? Are we not doing the work that we were hired to do?

Posted by: dxkapp | August 19, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Use the money to fix the roads in northern Virginia. Many are unpaved (in the 21st century!) The ones that are paved are falling apart (except for the toll roads...)

Giving away the surplus to state employees is pretty stupid.

Regarding the state employee who whined that he makes less than private sector employees, the solution is pretty obvious - see if you can get and hold a job as a private sector employee!

Posted by: blueridgepro | August 19, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

With all the people out of work that i know of and the economy in the dumps it looks like they would SAVE the money for a rainy day fund--I an 67 still work and have not had a raise in over ten years--

Posted by: marysduby | August 19, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

maybe the governor and the elected officials should strongly consider making a nice donation to the virginia capital trail foundation, and promote free low-cost healthy ways of enjoying their state and it's beauty...

come on mcdonnell you can afford to write a nice big check to those supporting the state of virginia:

for more info see:

http://www.virginiacapitaltrail.org/


Posted by: FranknErnest | August 19, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

To my understanding, the only state employees who will receive the "one time bonus " are the employees who are considered "full time" employees,(Managers and Assistant Managers).So,even though I work 40 hours a week, have not had a raise since 2007, have no benefits,am considered a part time employee, do the same job as a manager and assistant manager, I will not get the bonus because I am only considered an "acting manager". Thank-you so much for the "up yours" job you did on the faithful Va. State Worker !!! Good job McDonnell. You know we love you !!!

Posted by: nwcmbrg57 | August 20, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

As for the roads in Northern Va., install tolls to pay for your own road improvements !! Our roads are not much better than yours here in So. Central Va. Down here, we have been promised a privately owned prison for years, but all the monies for that were sent up north to give YOU jobs, while our poor county continues to dry up and blow away in the wind. What makes your needs more important than ours, other than where our state leader grew up? Is there ANY political leader out there who cares about the South Central part of our beautiful state? It seems only Periello is the only hope we have at the moment. Why can the politicos not see that we need to get this privately owned prison started so we can get jobs for this county? We are one of the poorest counties in the state. Why can we not get our local people jobs? Why not get the rail line reinstalled in our areas? This would take some of the tractor/trailers off the roads. Or, why not tax the big rigs for tearing up the highways? Is there anyone out there with any common sense? Wake up elected leaders, your people are NOT happy with your recent Big ideas ...

Posted by: nwcmbrg57 | August 20, 2010 9:25 PM | Report abuse

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