Saturday, July 17, 2010

Virginia's Budget Surplus

This week I saw 2010's most surprising headline to date: Virginia actually has a budget surplus! The Progress initially printed an AP story and then editorialized its applause later in the week.
Virginia’s battered state budget ended a turbulent 2010 fiscal year on June 30 with a surprise surplus of about $220 million, government figures show ... The surplus ended a dire budget year in which official revenue forecasts were lowered three times and raised once as policymakers struggled to reconcile a nearly $2 billion shortfall.
I was extremely surprised: amidst all of the budgetary woes facing various states (Illinois is the one that's been in the national news recently), I thought that we'd be short at least a few hundred million, particularly since the projected deficit was so large as of this winter.

This is a huge feather in Governor McDonnell's cap in terms of his national political aspirations.  I feel like whenever I read a profile article about a governor with national ambitions, it includes a line to the effect of "while the politicians in Washington bicker, [insert name] managed to turn [insert state name]'s budget deficit into a surplus by making hard decisions and being willing to work across the aisle to actually get things done."

The question, of course, is how much damage has been done to the state's public education system in order to balance the budget without raising taxes.  It sounds like education was by far the biggest loser in McDonnell's cuts last winter.

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