Spending is caring
The battle always comes down to how much we are willing to spend to show that we did something for a particular area of the budget. Meaning, we often get into the trap of showing constituency "X" how much we care by giving them "Y"% more than the previous year in direct conflict with take your pick from the Senate/House/Governor. House says 3% for something and the Governor says 3.5% and so on.
Yes, there are many areas of "need" and there are areas of "want". Some are legitimate on the surface and others are not as legitimate. The problem is we do not know and the budget document and the government itself cannot show you what will actually happen with that increase so that you can determine whether or not it was worth the increase.
Recently, we have heard from top officials that while they cannot tell us how many people actually work for the state and that they physically cannot show you what they do, we need a lot more money in the meantime. Sadly, this has not been the focus of the debate.
What is the focus is that we need to spend more. Showing the people how well we did it is secondary because we have a massive surplus and we need to show that we care. The reality is that it is we try to spend wisely, we just don't know if we do.
Some of us really want to know if your tax money is actually doing the job well and we think that shows a real concern (caring) about the product and not the price. Would one pay $10 dollars for a bowl of Ramen noodles? Probably not.
Would one dramatically increase transportation spending if one was told by a very high ranking VDOT (no longer there) administrator that instead of the 9,300+/- employees that we really only needed about 5,000 to run the department efficiently?
During his confirmation hearing, Secretary Homer was asked about staffing reductions at VDOT and he said that he did not want to set any specific goals for that.
Instead we have to show the people of Virginia that we serious about solving transportation problems in Virginia and that involves spending not caring.