Governor Says Most of Surplus Committed
Gov. McDonnell has told General Assembly committees that much of the state's $403 million in unspent funds is already allocated.
Governor McDonnell told legislators yesterday that Virginia finished its budget year with a 403-million-dollar surplus. However, much of that surplus has already been spoken for. The General Assembly has set guidelines over the years that allocate specific percentages of surplus funds to certain programs and projects. Among those are 48 million for transportation, 36 million for Chesapeake Bay clean up, nineteen million for education and 83 million for a three percent Christmas bonus for state employees, who have not seen a pay increase in three years. Governor McDonnell will announce his intentions for the remaining 71 million dollars in December.
McDonnell: I'd like to see some money go to transportation. We've got some National Guard armories that need some work. I'd like to even see us, perhaps, look at an advance payment back to the VRS. I'm very concerned about that policy of taking that money from the VRS.
Some Democrats, like Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, have criticized the governor saying he misrepresented the nature of the funds as a surplus, due to the heavy cuts the state has endured over the past several years.
Saslaw: I look at a surplus as something that, where you've met all of your agency and population responsibilities in a growth period of low unemployment, and then things were even better than you thought they would be. That's a true surplus.
Governor McDonnell dismissed these criticisms saying this is the way budgets have always been determined in the Commonwealth. Virginia has cut its budget by over eleven billion dollars since 2007.