After four years of overly optimistic budget projections by outgoing Governor Tim Kaine’s administration, Governor-elect Bob McDonnell has called for major reforms in Virginia’s budget development process. There is no doubt that more needs to be done in streamlining the process when it comes to developing a statewide budget.
McDonnell said, in a press statement:
“On Friday, December 18th, Governor Tim Kaine proposed his biennial budget for Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012. The Governor made his proposal with only 28 days left in his single four-year term, carrying out his obligation as determined by our current budgetary calendar. Unfortunately, the current budget development process leads to a situation, repeated every four years, in which the consideration, debate and adoption of one governor’s proposed budget takes place during the Administration of his successor. Thus, one out of every two budgets submitted requires no subsequent accountability or management from the governor who proposed it. The current system also requires a new governor to potentially submit sweeping changes to a budget just days after taking office with limited preparation and input. A sitting governor usually takes many months to analyze and develop a comprehensive state budget. It is likewise burdensome on the General Assembly to have to review and consider the potentially divergent budget recommendations of two governors in such a short period of time.
Regardless of who is governor, or the political parties they represent, such an arrangement does not serve the public’s best interest nor does it create a fiscally prudent planning process. It needs to be reformed.
As Governor, I will propose action be taken to move the budget development process to odd-numbered years, from the current even-numbered year arrangement. Thus an incoming Governor would only make necessary changes to the second year of his predecessor’s budget, and would then be in office for the drafting of two full budgets of his or her own, and would be held fully responsible for the implementation and oversight of those budgets. There is broad support for reform. Governor Kaine and I, as well as key General Assembly leaders, support this change. Governor L. Douglas Wilder’s Commission on Government Efficiency and Effectiveness made this same proposal during the Warner Administration. I have spoken with many business leaders and citizens who support this policy change. It is a non-partisan recommendation that will ensure a much more orderly budget process. As a candidate for Governor I recommended this change as part of the government reform package Lieutenant Governor Bolling and I jointly announced in September.
It is important, especially in tough fiscal times, to continue to look for positive reforms in all areas of government, to make it simpler and more efficient and to get results. This is one which will lead to a smoother budget process for the benefit of all involved. I look forward to working with the members of the General Assembly to adopt this reform in the near future to begin with submission of a full two-year budget in 2011.”