Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Here's how you cut costs....

Our good friend Norm has sadly closed up shop over at One Man's Trash, but during last year's legislative session he began digging into some of the "pork" in the Virginia State budget.

Last year, he found that the Senate requested $94.5 million for non-state agencies for year one(general fund dollars in addition to the $19.2 million in the introduced budget). They then made a total of $41 million in requests (on top of the $600,000 introduced budget) for year two.

That's a lot of "bringing home the bacon!"

In the end, the legislature and the governor approved about $37 million in earmarks.

Since transportation funding was the "critical" issue of the session, we took a look at VDOT's website to get an idea of some transportation projects in Virginia that could have used this $37 million.

Yet, $37 million wasn't enough, and in December, the Governor announced requests to spend another $7.5 million in our tax dollars on earmarks for pet projects (see page 49, if you're interested). That's nothing compared to the Senate's budget requests for this year that ask for a total of $112,954,241 in pork-barrel earmarks to non-state agencies!! See the list here.

(Note: Many of these requests are made by the very same Senators who find fault with using those same general fund dollars to fund investments in transportation projects. See more.)

Well, we at Americans for Prosperity agree that it's time to end earmarks. We've been highlighting examples of egregious spending since our Taxpayer Trust Tour this past summer. You can follow on our AFP-VA Blog.

While we understand that some will argue this is "small change" in the scope of a $74 billion budget, we believe this is the tip of the iceburg, the "gateway drug too higher spending," as our friend Senator Tom Coburn is fond of saying. If lawmakers can't control $37 million in earmarks, how can they seriously tackle the bigger spending problems the state faces?

As the members of the Cost Cutting Caucus work to tackle substantive reforms to government spending and operations, this is a pretty simple example of where we can begin to stop overspending.


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