Chap Petersen on Bob McDonnell’s Phony “Surpluses,” VRS Shenanigans

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    Over at Ox Road South, State Senator Chap Petersen slams Bob McDonnell for fundamental dishonesty on two interrelated fronts.

    First, Petersen dings our fine governor for his proposal “that certain state employees will need to start contributing the 5% match to their Virginia Retirement System (VRS) account.”  This, Petersen points out, comes after “the Assembly’s investigative arm (JLARC) issued a report  which stated that VRS is underfunded by $17B in order to meet its obligations through 2020.” Brilliant.

    Second, Petersen takes on McDonnell’s phony “surpluses.”

    Last week, the Governor informed us that Virgnia would spend “its surpluses” on improving transportation.  Surpluses?  After borrowing $700M from VRS to balance our books?

    Then this week the Govenor is announcing initiatives to spend an extra $50M on higher education, $30M on economic development and more money on behavioral health.

    Are these worthy goals?

    Of course.  But let’s not pretend that these new spending items are unrelated to our VRS shortfall.  Or that the Commonwealth is in some sort of surplus.

    We are asking our state employees to take an effective pay cut on the VRS issue, after not giving them a pay raise since 2007.  We owe money to our pension fund.  Our roads are in disrepair.  The House will oppose any tax increase, even increases in user fees dedicated for transportation.

    How are we in a position for new spending programs?

    Exactly right, well said by Chap Petersen. I’d just add that repeating something over and over again, in this case Bob McDonnell claiming repeatedly that Virginia has a “surplus,” doesn’t make it so. Note to Bob McDonnell — a lie is still a lie if you say it 1 time, 10 times, or 100 times. Oh, and Governor? If you ever get a grip on this concept, you might want to explain it to your science-denying Attorney General and your “pants on fire” Speaker of the House as well.

    • Elaine in Roanoke

      I love what Chap Petersen has to say, with one exception:

      “For those who don’t work for the state, one of the main perks is the VRS system which — prior to July 1, 2010 — was fully subsidized by the state.  As a part of that system, the state historically contributed the employer’s share (usually 6-7% of paycheck), as well as the employee’s share (capped at 5%).”

      That’s not exactly accurate. The state on many occasions, and under governance by both parties, has not fully funded its contribution to VRS. Whenever it has been convenient, the state has used its bill to VRS as an ATM to make the budget work. Now, the problem has mushroomed into a huge one. Sadly, we all know how this will be rectified. State and local  employees and teachers will see their VRS benefits “adjusted” and their pay smaller to make up for the political incompetence of 20 or more years. We all should support Del. Englin’s proposal for a constitutional amendment to end this practice.