State Government Twitching from McDonnell’s Strangulation

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    Customer service at the Virginia Department of Taxation last Friday informed: delays answering are due to high call volume; you can file free using iFile. The first is very doubtful at this time of year. The second is simply not true. Welcome to Republican stewardship of state government.

    One of the brainchildren of the McDonnell administration is to find ways for government services to fund themselves. If the Department of Taxation isn’t self-funding, just think how Medicaid is going to be treated. In fact, some social service organizations have been encouraged to think way out of the box. Opening going concerns competing with local businesses, like expanding Meals on Wheels delivery to new clients who can afford to pay at a premium, is not out of the question. Other ideas such as providing laundry service or catering events are also on the table.  

    Needing an answer to a tax question, I drove to the Department’s new location on Westmoreland Street in Richmond.  Frankly, having attended a couple of other agency sessions where the state budget has been discussed, I expected the real reason the phones weren’t being answered was that they were doing a car wash out in the parking lot to help fund the Department. To my surprise, the lot was almost empty. No car wash; not even a bake sale to raise money to help man (or woman) the phones.

    Finally in contact with a person in person at the Department, the assistance was, as usual, more than adequate. But, using a phone message that must be over two years old as an obstruction to contact is a symptom of decline in the organization and in the organizational environment created by state leadership. Someone just did not even care enough to tell (or program) a bulletproof lie and wasn’t concerned with the consequences. And the mention of iFile raised an old grievance. No, Virginia, under this administration there is no “free” service. The fact that we pay for these services as a function of government is lost on Republicans who will enjoy a free “reign” if Democrats don’t turn out next week to maintain the Senate majority.