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Rhetoric vs. reality


“Frederick pointed out,” the release related, breathlessly, “that state spending has more than doubled over the last decade and increased by over 50 percent during the last five years.” That amounts to an indictment from the RPV chair, there, doesn’t it? Democrats, Jeffrey Frederick is saying, like Tim Kaine and Mark Warner spend money hand over fist. That’s what’s left implied there.

So OK, I’ll bite. Let’s go with that premise. State spending has more than doubled over the last decade. Is he right on that? Actually, yes, he is. Dating back to the term of Jim Gilmore, a Republican, who ran for the U.S. Senate this fall with Frederick’s endorsement and hearty support, state spending has more than doubled in the past 10 years.

For starters, Gilmore inherited a state budget in 1998 that was set at $17.6 billion and left in 2002 with a budget that had the state spending $23.5 billion, a growth in his four years in office of 33.5 percent.

Wow. Looks like Republicans might know how to spend money, too, and come to think of it, times were tight back in 2000 and 2001 and into 2002 with the recession that commenced at the end of the Clinton term and was exacerbated by the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Interesting how the data paint a picture there.

Democrat Mark Warner presided over a similar period of growth in state spending – taking that $23.5 billion budget from ’02 and leaving in ’06 with a $31.9 billion budget, growth in his four years in office of 35.7 percent all told.

Funny thing about Tim Kaine. I remember thinking of him back during the ’05 gubernatorial election that he was at best a Warner Lite on fiscal issues. He proposed new spending left and right, or at least that’s what I remember. Pre-K education here on the one hand, a statewide transportation fix there on the other.

So the on-paper budget for Kaine for fiscal-year 2009-2010, his last budget as governor, is $38.3 billion, and we’re looking at having to make $2.9 billion in cuts to the budget to get it back in line with available revenues. Unless my math is off, that’s going to leave us with an operating budget for ’09-’10 of $35.4 billion, representing growth over his four years in office of right around 11 percent.

Looks like I was wrong back in ’05 about Kaine being a Warner Lite. He’s more like Warner on Steroids.

Which brings me back to Frederick and his press release. “For years, Republicans warned Gov. Kaine, Secretary Jody Wagner and others in the administration that the revenue forecasts they used to justify their addiction to higher spending and bigger state government were irresponsible and reckless,” Frederick said by way of tarring-and-feathering the governor and his top staff for political-rhetoric purposes.

Want to rethink that, Jeff?


– Column by Chris Graham



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