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McDonnell defends state budget, surplus

Anita Kumar

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) said Thursday morning that he is pleased with the state's $403.2 million surplus, even though he has to spend most of the money on previously committed programs.

"The good news is for the first time in about three years instead of operating in the red we are operating in the black, and it's a trend I hope to continue,'' McDonnell said on his monthly radio show on WRVA in Richmond.

But host Doc Thompson, who was filling in for the vacationing Jimmy Barrett, said people are "confused'' and "unhappy" that the state will be spending the entire surplus McDonnell announced last week.

"The frustrating thing for the people is that money is already mandated to be spent,'' he said. "They're very frustrated by that."

Much of the money, but not all, is committed: $82.2 million for a 3 percent bonus for state employees; $60.4 million for roads; $36.4 million for the Water Quality Improvement Fund, which is used for the Chesapeake Bay cleanup; $18.7 million for education; and $9.3 million for snow removal.

An additional $100 million or more came from state agencies, including colleges and universities that did not spend all of their money and are allowed to keep their balances.

McDonnell has until Nov. 1 to recommend to the General Assembly how the state should spend the remaining $87.5 million.

"All but $87 million, $90 million are committed in advance,'' McDonnell said. "I've got some discretion now by Nov. 1 where I get to make some decisions on where the remaining parts of the money goes, and we're looking at some capital expenditures in transportation to paying back the (Virginia Retirement System)."

McDonnell said he would consider looking at some changes down the road that would allow some flexibility -- including allowing money that is saved by state agencies to be spent by him instead of staying with those state agencies. He also said he could keep some money in reserve or in the state's rainy-day fund.

"We have to be very concerned about our budgeting going forward,'' he said. "We've already cut $10 billion in the budget in the last couple years. We're slowly heading in the right direction but we have a long way to go."

By Anita Kumar  |  August 26, 2010; 12:25 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , State Senate  
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Just think.

If Prince William County's Information Management Department employees had not gotten away with stealing $9 million in tax dollars, Governor McRobertson would have additional surplus to brag about!

Posted by: perryneheum | August 26, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

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