Saturday, August 26, 2006

The $137 million error and how Republicans were right

As some other bloggers like BVBL have been discussing, The Warner admininstration is taking some of the blame for a $137 million budget error which the Kaine administration failed to notice or correct. But there is more to this story, which in fact validates a republican vote last month that the democrats at the time castigated them for.

First, the current error, as reported in the Potomac News today:

Top fiscal officials in the Warner administration knew about a major budget mistake involving schools funding for seven months before Gov. Timothy M. Kaine independently learned about the $137 million error.
The crux of the original problem was that tax and finance analysts overestimated the amount of cash available for distribution to school districts in each year of the two-year budget because they did not take into account the speeded-up reduction of the sales tax on groceries.

In other words, this problem is that the budget showed $137 million MORE in money available for schools than actually exists. Governor Kaine has the typical democrat solution to ANY time government wants to spend more money:

The Kaine administration, alerted to the error last month by the huge Fairfax County school district, has promised to distribute this fiscal year an extra $60 million to local school divisions who had been promised the additional cash generated by the miscalculations.

Probably not the worst thing to do, since the schools already did THEIR budgets based on the additional money. Although this does point out how budgeting is done -- rather than determine the minimum needed to perform tasks, government just takes the total money available, and figures out how to spend it.

Note that if Virginia accidentally sent you a refund check with an extra zero, and you bought a new car with it, they would expect you to pay them back. But when they mistakenly give the money to a GOVERNMENT agency, they let them keep it.

But this brings us to the SAVIORS of this story, the republicans in the house. Remember last month, when Kaine said he had "found" another chunk of money, and proceeded to try to spend it on a bunch of stuff nobody CARED about 3 months ago? From the Washington Post at that time:

Before finishing the most overdue budget in state history and going home for the summer, the Republican-led House of Delegates voted to reject 20 of 36 amendments proposed by Kaine to the two-year, $72 billion spending plan, removing almost $22 million in additional funding the governor had wanted to divvy up among projects across the state.

In other words, by taking sound fiscal action, the republicans saved $22 million in unnecessary (as evidenced by the fact it wasn't in Kaine's bloated budget) spending. Now we need $60 million to cover the Kaine/Warner blunder, and at least we have $22 million sitting around still.

Of course, democrats bloggers like Raising Kaine and NLS attacked the republicans at the time for being mean-spirited, even going after one of their own democrat delegates for accidentally voting with the republicans. Because those democrats, like their elected leaders, think every time the government manages to lift from the people's pockets HAS to be spent immediately, lest someone get the idea that maybe government doesn't NEED all of our money, and we might be able to keep a little more of it.

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