a Grip on State Spending
Warner has yet to fulfill his promise to streamline
wasteful spending in state government. He could
start with his own office.
the heels of news that the Commonwealth had $677
million more on hand when the 2004-2006 biennium
began on July 1 than Gov. Mark R. Warner had
projected, there are reports that Warner has been
cutting state agency budgets by as much as 20
percent, while expanding his own staff budget by
more than $1.3 million.
Throughout the budget belt-tightening period
since he took office, the governor has been
transferring personnel to his office from various
in the General Assembly came to Warnerís defense,
arguing that the governorís actions were justified
because the Republican-controlled House of Delegates
would have never appropriated the funds Warner felt
were needed had he had made a forthright request.
Besides, they argued, Warner didnít leave
his own staff personnel on the payrolls of state
agencies to hide what he was doing, as they claimed
previous governors had done.
is noteworthy that Warner didnít make the same
confronted with the transfers, his office announced
that the practice would stop.
state auditor of public accounts, Walter J.
Kucharski, initially drew attention to the pattern
of drawing agency resources into the governorís
office at a time when agencies were already
adjusting to substantial reductions in their own
was quoted as saying, ďThereís some questionable
judgmentĒ in the governorís decision to increase
his payroll by this practice.
Warner has not publicly challenged
Vincent F. Callahan, Jr., the Fairfax County
Republican who chairs the House Appropriations
Committee, criticized Warner for calling on
legislators to be candid about Virginiaís budget problems, but not being forthright
insisted that it was time for the governorís
office to begin reporting these staff transfers as
the law requires.
representatives have given assurances to House
leaders that the governor will submit to the General
Assembly a straightforward funding request for his
office in the budget recommendations he will present
in December. The
governor will have a public relations problem if he
proposes increased payroll for his office, while
maintaining the cutbacks in agency budgets he has
ordered since taking office.
should not be difficult for Warner to reduce his own
all, at least two of his staff members recently took
a leave of absence to work for John Kerryís
How much of the budget for the governorís
office is essential?
The House Appropriations Committee should
look at this area of spending as closely as it looks
at any other part of state government, including its
of this brings to mind Warnerís long-neglected
promise to eliminate waste and inefficiency
throughout state government.
Streamlining state government, the governor
has said, will eventually make at least $1 billion
in state funds available annually for tax relief or
enhanced program spending.
amount involved in the unreported personnel
transfers to the governorís office was only $1.3
the focus put on these transfers by the House
Appropriations Committee will lead to a leaner
operation in the governorís office.
The same kind of focus on other areas of
state government could produce spending reductions
that dwarf any cuts that could be made in Warnerís
apparent conspiracy of silence among politicians in
has prevented this opportunity to cut spending
through streamlining by $1 billion a year from being
Taxpayers have the right to demand that their
representatives get on with making state government
more efficient and effective.