to Come Clean
Warner wants to take credit for streamlining state
government -- he just doesn't want to share the
savings with taxpayers.
awfully difficult to muster any sympathy for House
Republicans, who for whatever reason havenít
played their strongest card in the budget fight this
year. They should be having a field day with the
bloated budget submitted by Gov. Mark R. Warner to
the special session of the General Assembly. This is
the same budget Warner submitted to the regular
Warner himself has recently pointed to ways to cut
spending through improved management. For
example, he told the magazine Information Week ("Advancing
a Tech Agenda," March 15, 2004) that
the consolidation of information technology (IT)
operations of state government will save Virginia
taxpayers approximately $100 million a year.
may come as a surprise to House Speaker William
Howell, R-Stafford, and the rest of that chamber.
Repeatedly, Warner, his secretary of technology and
his new director of the Virginia Information
Technology Agency either refused to provide complete
and accurate information or to respond at all to
inquiries from delegates about the potential for IT
are two outstanding resolutions approved by
comfortable majorities of House members officially
requesting detailed explanation about IT operations
and potential savings, as well as information about
other areas of state government, such as procurement
and real estate operations, that were the subject of
recommendations by former Governor Douglas
Wilderís Commission on Efficiency and
Wilder Commission concluded that as much as $1.3
billion a year could be shaved off state spending.
Warner has acknowledged that at least $1 billion of
that amount could be realized.
claims by Warner and the Wilder Commission prompted
the House to pass resolutions insisting that the governor
and his agency heads provide information to the
House so that those claimed savings, if verified,
could be incorporated in the budget for 2004-2006,
which is once again the subject of negotiation
between House and Senate conferees. The $200 million
savings in IT spending that Warner claimed in the Information
Week article would go a long way toward closing
the gap between what the House proposes to spend and
what the Senate says it will agree to.
dollar of savings would offset a dollar of new
taxes. It is simply irresponsible for Warner to be
playing political games of this sort with the state
is obviously Warnerís intention to stonewall so
that the case for raising taxes isnít undermined
by evidence of opportunities to cut spending. He
also wants to take full credit for streamlining
must especially gall House members is the lengthy
interview Warner recently had with Information
Week reporters Stephanie Stahl and Eric Chabrow.
Excerpts of that interview were published on-line by
the magazine on March 17, 2004.
appears that Warner has plenty of time to give
reporters, but wonít take the time and effort to
respond to official requests from the House for
budget information. Perhaps, Warner assumed
that the regular session of the General Assembly
would end before any members were made aware of his
Information Week interview.
legislators are too timid to demand that Warner
treat them as equal partners in the budget process,
taxpayers should let the governor know that he has a
responsibility to eliminate wasteful spending and to
provide information to legislators to allow them to
make independent decisions about where to cut
behavior is an outrage. If legislators fail to act
now, their behavior will be equally outrageous.
March 29, 2004