A few weeks ago, I noted that Governor McDonnell had reported that the state ended the fiscal year with a budget surplus one year after having a massive budget deficit. Well, Bill Wilson at Americans for Limited Government takes a look behind the numbers and discovers it ain’t necessarily so:
Two weeks ago there were cheers heard throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Gov. Bob McDonnell jubilantly proclaimed that the state had achieved a budget surplus.
There’s only one little problem. It is not true. Simply put, the surplus announcement is nothing more than the final act in a well-constructed play.
It’s political theater aiming to yet again pull the wool over the eyes of the public, while kicking the problems down the road for future legislative sessions to deal with. In short, it is the same old rancid political game that got our nation and Virginia into the fiscal mess in the first place.
Just a quick review will show how the politicians in Richmond, men and women of both political parties, constructed their con.
As part of the budget earlier this year, the General Assembly and the governor managed to “balance” the budget by skipping payments to the Virginia Retirement System to the tune of $620 million. Government entities will have to pay it back at some point with interest.
But what will the politicians do when they can’t?
The fact is, the budget was “balanced” by cheating, by setting up a default on the Commonwealth’s commitment to public employees. Whether the benefits and the VRS plan are overly generous or not is beside the point.
A contract has been made with those workers in the name of the people of Virginia. And that contract has to be honored. What the politicians did was take the money meant to honor that contract and use it for other spending.
If the average person does that it is called embezzlement. I guess politicians use a different vocabulary.
Indeed, a private employer who diverted funds meant for an employee 401k program, for example, would be facing personal liability for all the money diverted, loss of his own assets, and the prospect of several years in jail, or more depending upon on the amount of money stolen.
But when the government does it, it’s called “creative accounting” and it’s used to make people think that the financial picture of the state is better than it actually is.
I’m disappointed, Governor. Very disappointed.