Sunday, October 18, 2015

Kudos To Bill Howell

Last week the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC), which is the auditing arm of the General Assembly, produced a report on state spending over the last 10 years. The purpose of the audit is to identify the largest and fastest growing functions and programs in the budget, and analyze long-term trends and causes of spending in these programs.

Well, I was having trouble sleeping and I thought this report surely would put me out. I thought this would be better than counting sheep. Well eventually I went to sleep, but not before I concluded that the report is positive. Under Speaker Bill Howell’s leadership Virginia has controlled state spending.

Over the last 10 years adjusted for inflation and population growth Virginia general fund spending has decreased by 5 percent. Certainly Washington Republicans could never be able to brag about such a thing.

Now, the one caveat, non-general funds, such as Medicaid and other federal matching programs where the funds are governed by statute and not discretionary, the growth is still strong.

Over the last 10 years the total budget grew by 11%, the non-general fund budget increased by 24%, and the general fund budget decreased by 5%.

For all the heat Howell has taken for the transportation deal, which did raise taxes and spending, this report makes it clear that Virginia is not a big government tax and spend state. While Maryland and many other states grow their budget we reduce ours.

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