VACostCutting

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Welcome!

As this is the introductory post of the Virginia Cost Cutting Caucus blog, I would like to first explain what the Cost Cutting Caucus is and how you can participate in creating a more productive government here in the Commonwealth. We believe that a more transparent, accountable and competitive government will yield better services at a lower cost to the taxpayers.

The Cost Cutting Caucus (CCC) was created in 2001 by soon to be former Delegate Allen Louderback. Allen, I think, worked for the GAO and had a real nose for wasteful spending practices in government operations. I called Allen and asked if I could join the CCC. He replied that it would probably be a good idea if I won my election first. Right. First things first.

In 2002, Del. Louderback began a very meaningful dialogue within the House of Delegates that was solely based upon spending practices and substantive reform. One of the first things that the members of the CCC, primarily freshman delegates, realized was that the actual budget document was unreadable. Yes, it is printed in English and uses arabic numerals but it really told you absolutely zero about HOW the money was being spent and if it was being spent well. Since those early days, transparency became one of our major themes.

We worked with the Warner Administration to try to understand what they were trying to accomplish so that we could assist them in creating legislation that not only made sense but would be carried out. Remember, just because the legislative branch passes a law, the executive still has to carry it out.

An example of this is HB1838. This bill authored and carried by Del. Gary Reese stated that the budget document had to be printed in an easily understood format. This was a tremendous victory for fiscal conservatism in the Commonwealth as the bill passed unanimously in both chambers and was signed into law by Governor Warner. Sensing little was being done, the leadership of the CCC asked for a meeting with high ranking members of the administration to see where they were and to offer a template of a transparent budget cobbled together with the best of the other states. We actually paid for this research on our own. At that meeting, we were told, reading between the lines,that the law would not be followed. Did we rant and rave, call a press conference and demand action? No, we kept up a proactive dialogue and in December of 2005, we have realized the fruits of our labor. The new document is available on line and linked on this blog.

We have had other successful legislative intiatives that we will detail later, but I want to focus on the basics at this point of who we are, what we do and what we will try to do.

Some ground rules on this blog. Since we are bipartisan and bicameral, we welcome ideas from anyone. We believe that a healthy discussion of these ideas needs the following 1) constructive and engaging criticism 2) thorough analysis 3) the acceptance of the fact that we will be wrong from time to time 4) positive interaction with state employees and lastly 5) zero negativity and acrimony - there are plenty of places in this world to rant and vent and this blog is not among them. We also reserve the right to have disagreements within the CCC.

With that, I turn it over to you. We have invited several people to blog and I am certain that the list will grow over time. My email is listed as saxman@vacostcutting.com but my delegate address is also DelCSaxman@house.state.va.us .

As Chairman of the Cost Cutting Caucus, I would like to thank several people who have allowed us to be where we are today. Delegate Allen Louderback - you will be missed but your legacy will continue. Delegate Michele McQuigg who has had a real interest in this effort and we will talk about her legislation later. Delegate Gary Reese who left a legacy of a real transparent budget. If I had to give an award for courage and valor it would be to Gary for his efforts in the new budget. And of course, Speaker Bill Howell who continues to not only share our vision, but also leads by example in so many ways. He is the true reformer in Virginia state politics.

19 Comments:

  • Welcome to the Virginia blogosphere!

    By Anonymous Chad, at 1/08/2006 6:01 PM  

  • I'm looking forward to this blog.

    By Blogger Not Larry Sabato, at 1/08/2006 6:19 PM  

  • Who else in in the CCC?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1/08/2006 7:25 PM  

  • From one compassionate, yet fiscal conservative to another...

    Good Luck, Delegate Saxman!

    ~ a kinder & gentler blue dog

    By Blogger Steven, at 1/08/2006 7:26 PM  

  • As one of the few public servants I actually respect...kudos on being willing to put the info out there.....

    ~trying to be a kinder& gentler republitarian.....

    By Blogger republitarian, at 1/08/2006 8:07 PM  

  • It's too bad our national representatives aren't interested in transparent economics, like you seem to be.

    By Blogger Willis, at 1/08/2006 8:31 PM  

  • thanks for the kind welcome. The membership of the CCC will be announced as they join. Membership expires every two years. yes, you must pay dues to join. Those dues actually go to research at like minded think tanks. the dues are $1000 and cover one two year term. we have no money accounts and the checks are actually made out directly to the think tank itself.

    the anonymous policy is this - you can post anonymously, but preference is given to those who ID themselves via their blog name and/or emailing me directly. we appreciate the need for anonymity especially for state employees; however, we will not respond to anonymous comments that are not on subject and are not constructive

    By Anonymous Chris Saxman, at 1/08/2006 8:38 PM  

  • Glad to see you joining the blogosphere Chris.
    I know you will do a great job for us all in the upcoming session.

    By Blogger GOPHokie, at 1/08/2006 8:43 PM  

  • This is a great idea and already has moved up to the top blog to look at each day. You have our support "SWAC" and keep the faith brother...

    By Blogger RightsideVA, at 1/08/2006 9:03 PM  

  • Good luck Delegate Saxman. I hope you can help restore some fiscal sanity to the Commonwealth.

    Also, it was nice meeting you at the AFP event on Saturday.

    By Blogger nickfinity, at 1/08/2006 9:18 PM  

  • Welcome to the blogosphere! I realize that your legislative duties will make postings difficult, but I look forward to your analyses when available.

    By Blogger J.Sarge, at 1/08/2006 9:21 PM  

  • Welcome Delegate Saxman-

    Watch out with the Reese comment..you don't want the "conservatives" getting mad!

    Stat Counter is a good thing to use..you can see the ips and locations of who comments on your blog.

    It's on the bottom of TC

    By Blogger too conservative, at 1/08/2006 9:34 PM  

  • Start tearing the budget a new one!!!

    By Blogger Virginia Centrist, at 1/09/2006 10:06 AM  

  • Looks very interesting. You mentioned a budget document that would be posted on the blog. Maybe I'm blind, but I can't find it. Is it available yet?

    By Blogger Robert, at 1/09/2006 11:12 AM  

  • robert- check out the links on the right side of the page. first link is for the new 2006 budget document.

    By Blogger AFPVA, at 1/09/2006 11:17 AM  

  • Why the use of think tanks? If there is appropriate research to be down is that something that can be assigned to JLARC? Who decides how to allocate the research funds? Is it a straight vote of the caucus or does everyone send their dues to their own favorite think tank?

    By Anonymous Bill Kuster, at 1/09/2006 2:46 PM  

  • JLARC is more of an auditing group. We try to develop policies that will create better outcomes. Those outcomes would then be audited by the Auditor of Public Accounts and/or JLARC. Different roles really. Plus, it is always good to have some objective looks at things. Outside the box thinking can come from anywhere.

    Previous to this session, dues had been sent to Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. We set dues so that people could not just say they were members solely for the purpose of putting on their brochures during elections and then had them send the check directly to TJIPP because it was cleaner.

    By Anonymous Chris Saxman, at 1/09/2006 4:08 PM  

  • Impressive lineup, Chris!

    By Blogger republitarian, at 1/10/2006 9:01 AM  

  • Hey Chris,

    Get Matt Lohr to a meeting as quickly as possible...his legislation proposed thus far seems to be akin to that proffered by your Democrat collegues in northern Virginia.

    By Blogger David Briggman, at 1/10/2006 9:17 PM  

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