The chasm between fictional campaign promises and factual results when Republicans get elected to office and are forced to govern never ceases to amaze me. For example, consider the contents of Bob McDonnell’s proposed amendments to the 2010-2012 budget.
All Republicans, McDonnell included, portray themselves as fiscal conservatives and guardians of the public purse when they run for office. Ah, but once there they do stuff like McDonnell’s latest “transportation plan.” Virginia has no real revenue to spend on transportation, so Leveraged Bob proposes borrowing $3 billion of the $4 billion in the latest version of his ever-changing “transportation plan.”
McDonnell presented himself as the “jobs governor” when he was running for office, but in November, Virginia’s jobless rate actually rose. So, Corporate Welfare Bob is asking for big bucks to give businesses bribes to induce them to create more jobs, including doubling the depreciation allowance for business equipment. Plus, there’s his proposed $10 million sales tax exemption for three corporate data centers, including the new Microsoft one in Mecklenberg County. I suppose he can pay for 20% of that one with his proposal to cut off the $2 million the state gives to Elmo and Big Bird.
The governor also says that he’s hell-bent on Virginia having 100,000 new college graduates in the next few years. That’s a fine goal, but those college kids have to come to college from K-12 educational facilities, the ones that Grinch Bob wants to short in order for the state to pay an additional 2% percent into the VRS retirement system that it has shortchanged over the years. The Grinch says he wants that money to come from local school divisions that were promised funds to help them cope with changes in the school funding formula, changes that hit poor and rural schools the hardest. That amendment is so bad that I’ll guarantee it’s DOA in the General Assembly, right next to Liquor Store Bob’s “plan” to sell of the state ABC cash cow. One state senator wasted no time in taking that one head on.
Because the school funding formula “was a very delicate part of reconciling the budget negotiations” earlier this year, Sen. Edd Houck, (D-Spotsylvania) said it has the potential to be a “hand grenade” in 2011, when every General Assembly seat is up for election and redistricting is on the horizon.
Care for the vulnerable and least among us is treated even worse than poor school districts in McDonnell’s amendments. One budget fall guy will be at-risk young people, with McDonnell proposing elimination of all programs that deal with them, except those mandated by federal and state law. McDonnell did add $75 million for Medicaid increased costs, not bothering to thank the federal government that passed matching-funds legislation which kept that total way down.
In a fit of pique, Scrooge McDonnell said he wants to punish Virginia Commonwealth University for raising tuition by 24%. Since the university said it’s action would raise $33.4 million, McDonnell said he will cut state money to VCU by $17 million. Tuition at VCU, even after the hike, is still less than half that of many other state schools, and President Michael Rao had no explanation for why VCU was singled out. I don’t either.
Here are the facts about why VCU took that drastic step:
VCU faces a $40 million budget gap over the next two years caused primarily by the loss of federal stimulus funding and continued reductions in state funding. In 2012, VCU will have lost about one-third of state support for instruction than it had in 2008, a decrease of more than $65 million. In the current year, VCU operates with about $13 million less in state support than it received 10 years ago, despite serving 8,500 more students. More than 90 percent of VCU’s undergraduate students are Virginians, meaning that there are relatively few out of state students – who under state law must pay at least 100 percent of the cost of education – to offset the impact of state budget cuts.
It’s obvious that members of the VCU Board of Visitors are being punished because they dared to speak truth to power and backed it up with facts.
Too many things in Virginia have been mismanaged for far too long, and Bob McDonnell doesn’t have ability or the leadership skills to make any of them better. No matter what Republicans say their philosophy is when they run for office, any politicians who contend that taxes and revenue are always bad things needing to be cut and that government is the problem instead of the solution are incapable of effective leadership in office. McDonnell is simply the latest example of that non-leadership on the part of the GOP.