Debt for Me, Not for Thee
Tuesday, April 18, 2006 :::
A press release from the Speaker's office takes on some of the criticisms leveled against the House's budget and transportation plans. I thought this was rich:
Opponents of the House plan have erroneously characterized it as being heavily laden with state-backed debt. In fact, the House budget contains slightly less debt, $339 million, than the budget as introduced by the Governor, $341 million. This limited use of leveraged funding is consistent with the formula established through legislation sponsored by Chairman Callahan and Senator Chichester and signed into law by Governor Warner in 2002 [HB 1285 and SB 402, 2002 Session]. By responsibly incorporating debt into its financial plan, the House spending plan would complete several projects reduced or eliminated by the Senate, including a new cancer center at the University of Virginia, a new biomedical research facility at George Mason, and new or improved facilities at state parks.
This cuts two ways. The House is able to look less willing to use the credit card than the governor. However, they are allow the Senate to appear as though it has made "hard choices" on a number of items -- the cancer center, the parks, etc. Actually, in the Sorensen "budget game" a few days back, I "voted" not to fund any of these items either. There were other priorities and for that matter there are competing needs. Why fund a cancer center at UVA when the Massey Cancer Center at VCU is up, running and aggressively expanding its reach?
But then there is this:
"The Senate has chosen to appropriate funds for the planning of future state office buildings - including a new building for the General Assembly -? that will ultimately be financed with higher taxes or increased debt burdens," commented Chairman Callahan. Â?In contrast, the House has opted to take advantage of the AAA bond rating Virginia has earned and has fought so hard to maintain. Even in transportation, the $1.2 billion in funding provided by the House transportation plan for the upcoming biennium does not include a single dollar of debt. The repeated manipulation of the facts by the Governor and his representatives and by members of the other body is both frustrating and disheartening."
Okay, maybe the Senate didn't exactly make a lot of hard choices. After all, Jeff Schapiro has been on the warpath for a new GAB all year. And by golly, ya gotta keep Good Copy happy!
There's more here -- largely relating to Pierce Homer's assertion that unless there's a budget by June 1, the paving stops. Like Leo Wardrup, I find that "ludicrous." The money will still be there, and so will the paving contractors.
Unless they were all lobbying the legislature today, that is.
::: posted by Norman Leahy at 4/18/2006