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Write your delegate and state senator now ...

posted Jan 16, 2010, 7:44 PM by Arthur Purves   [ updated Jan 18, 2010, 11:56 AM ]
 January 16. 2009
Senator Mark R. Herring                                        Delegate James R. LeMunyon
Virginia General Assembly                                      Virginia General Assembly
P.O. Box 6246                                                        3296 Willow Glen Drive
Leesburg, VA 20178                                                Oak Hill, VA 20171
Dear Jim and Mark,
From what I read in the newspapers, it appears that your current session with be heavily concentrated on the Virginia State budget. According to the Washington Post on 1/15/10, titled, "Humility Becomes Incoming Governor", the article states that you are facing a potential budget gap of $4.2 billion over the next two years. This is astronomical! It is now time for a budget review to be conducted based on zero based budgeting concept whereby you review every single program, division, branch and effectively reduce the budget without harming the education budget and perhaps finding more funding for transportation. This is not a new concept. When Governor Rick Perry inherited a $10 billion deficit from the previous Governor of Texas George W. Bush, he realized that Texans did not want an income tax so he was forced to carefully scrutinize the budget item by item to ferret out redundant or outdated programs and after a short time was able to secure a $2 billion surplus in the Texas budget. It always seems like most politicians take the easy way out and simply raise taxes. This is described in my first attachment titled, "Taxes are never enough". I respectfully request that you ask for a complete budget review, similar to zero based budgeting concepts, at the beginning up this session.
According to the Fairfax County Taxpayers Alliance ( www.fcta.org ), from 1998 through 2007 (a ten year period) the state budget jumped almost 100%. The budget went from $17.6 billion to $35.1 billion, an increase of $17.5 billion. During that period, inflation averaged around 2% per year while the budget rose 8 to 10% each year. According to the Washington Times dated 11/11/09, titled, "Va. budget up 74% since 2000". The article stated that the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee showed that the state spending jump of 28% when adjusted to account for inflation and population growth from fiscal 2000 to fiscal 2009. This is very alarming! It should be obvious to the General Assembly that the state budget spending is out of control! With all of this excessive spending, transportation funding in Northern Virginia remains woefully inadequate. Why is that?
The second attachment titled, "Virginia Retirement System (VRS): A generous system! is most revealing! Virginia state employees do not contribute into the VRS. Virginia is only one of five states that permits this luxury. Our neighboring states have their state employees contribute 5 to 6% of their income into their retirement systems. In 2008, the State contributed $2.148 billion into the VRS. Isn't it time for fairness and equity? It is now time to put newly hired state employees on the state retirement system and have them contribute 5 or 6% of their income with matching contribution from the State. If the budget is as desperate as some portray, then why not request all State employees to contribute to the VRS at the beginning of the new fiscal year? 
In an article from the Washington Times dated 1/6/10 titled, "Webb and Warner owe Virginia an apology",presents a possible disaster to the Virginia budget when the final health care bill is passed by Congress. The article stated that both Senators Webb and Warner passed the Senate version of the national health care bill which would add 262,000 people to Virginia's Medicaid rolls expecting the Commonwealth of Virginia to pick up the new gigantic tab! As you should know, Virginia already spends about $7 billion or 1/6 of the annual state budget on the state Medicaid program. This new Federal health care bill would increase enrollment federally mandated Medicaid by 30%. This is appalling! It is now time for you both, along with your friends in the General Assembly, to go to both Senator Warner and Webb and demand an explanation as to why they are shafting the citizens of Virginia with potential unnecessary additional costs. Senator Webb was quoted as stating, "His vote would not create a cumbersome overly bureaucratic system and his vote would be contingent on eliminating proposed Medicaid cuts, excluding abortion coverage, and ensuring fair and equal treatment". Senator Warner stated, "He would only vote for the final bill if convinced it will lower the deficit". Do you really believe that? You must find a way to rein in the Medicaid costs which have been soaring in recent years.
Last, but not least, I have written letters before to members of the General Assembly urging them to appoint an Inspector General and set up an Office of the Inspector General (OIG).This suggestion appears to fall on deaf ears. I understand that Virginia has the Auditor of Public Accounts Office that performs independent audits. This is not adequate for a state with a budget of over $36 billion per year. I encourage both of you to pursue establishing an OIG. The OIG, in Federal Government Departments and Agencies performs not only independent audits but also conducts inspections and investigations leading to prosecutions for fraud/ and or corruption. Such activities lead to improved integrity and accountability. It encourages the most efficient, effective, and economic use of resources and ultimately improves management. The OIG prevents and detects waste, fraud, abuse, mismanagement and corruption and identifies vulnerabilities and recommends constructive, meaningful solutions. In Federal departments and agencies, the OIG has saved billions of dollars! I encourage both of you to pursue this for the benefit of the taxpayers.
I look forward to a written reply to my letter.
Charles R. McAndrew