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 email@example.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.