Cummings Appointed Secretary of Finance

Steve Cummings

Governor-Elect Glenn Youngkin has tapped the private sector once again in his selection of Secretary of Finance: Steve Cummings, former president and CEO of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group in the Americas.

“Lowering taxes and restoring fiscal responsibility in Richmond is a primary focus of our Day One Game Plan, and Steve’s experience and expertise will help make sure we deliver real results for Virginians,” said Youngkin in making the announcement. “Steve shares my vision of respecting Virginians’ hard-earned tax dollars and ensuring the Commonwealth’s budget is managed effectively and efficiently, and he has the skillset and leadership qualities that our team needs to make Virginia the best place to live, work, and raise a family.”

As the saying goes, personnel is policy. Youngkin ran as an outsider, and judging by his cabinet picks, he intends to govern as an outsider. Not a single governmental re-tread among the three high-profile cabinet appointments so far.


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19 responses to “Cummings Appointed Secretary of Finance”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    three for three. Good for Youngkin AND Virginia!

    1. how_it_works Avatar

      And every single of them is what you would call a “come-here”.

  2. how_it_works Avatar

    “Mr. Cummings began his career with Kidder, Peabody & Co. Incorporated in 1979 in New York’s corporate finance division. He has an MBA from Columbia University Graduate School of Business and a BA from Colby College.”

    1. YellowstoneBound1948 Avatar

      A fine pedigree, to say the least, especially for a state that is Charlottesville-weary.

      1. how_it_works Avatar

        Definitely not a Richmond swamp-thing.

  3. SudleySpr Avatar

    Great! Speaking of retreads, is McAuful still asking what happened to his steal? 3-1 post election ballots to McAuful was a good attempt. Has any analysis been done to see where there were more votes than registered voters? Dead people? Out of state people? What is the one address with the most voters using the same address? McAuful was so concerned about fraud, before he wasn’t concerned about fraud.

  4. LarrytheG Avatar

    I am MORE than “ok” with personnel who have career experience in the business world. I think it’s becoming apparent, at least early on, that Youngkin has CHOSEN to not be a culture warrior.

    That may roil the political waters a bit, but it actually bodes well for the moderate wing of the GOP and true goverance.

    We’ll see if it holds.

    1. YellowstoneBound1948 Avatar

      Few will stay as long as four years (or eight, as the case may be, in other states). Transitioning from the private sector into state government can mean, and usually does mean, a large reduction in salary, and dealing with protected civil servants who are in the other party and determined to thwart the new guy at every turn. Still, if the Governor is willing to endure the turnover, he ought to give it his best shot. To bring “private sector” thinking into state government is worth the try. Good things will happen.

  5. Super Brain Avatar
    Super Brain

    A finance bro can bring a fresh perspective. Too much of the old Virginia way except at VHDA (now Va Housing and the VRS). Those two have their own finance bros and sisters.
    State gov’t works but it can work faster and better with a focus on timeliness and accountability.

  6. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    This is a bad decision. Contrary to public perception, having experience in high finance in the private sector does not equip one to be a Virginia Secretary of Finance. That position and developing a budget involves much more than numbers. It requires a knowledge of public policy and the state agencies. And that position has long been held by someone with a deep knowledge and experience in Virginia state government.

    Two examples will show what I mean. John Bennett was Secretary of Finance under Warner. He had almost an encyclopedic knowledge of Virginia government. He would meet for hours with Dept of Planning and Budget analysts to go over our recommendations for agency submissions. Those sessions were fun. An analyst had to be prepared; John was knowledgeable in every area. He would challenge us and we were encouraged to argue back. No budget recommendation went to the Governor unless he had approved it.

    Ric Brown succeeded Bennett. He was probably even more knowledgeable, having been at DPB, eventually serving as director, for at least 30 years. He was not as hands on with the operating budget as Bennett was, but he did personally oversee the development of the capital budget.

    Youngkin is a newcomer to state government in general, and Virginia government in particular. He does not know the ins and outs of the government. He does not know the history of policies and agencies. He needs someone in the Secretary of Finance position to make up for his lack of knowledge and experience. It is hard to believe that he could not have found someone in Republican circles who had these qualifications. If not, there are plenty of folks around who have served Democratic governors he could have chosen. That is not unheard of. Paul Timmereck and and Ric Brown both served as Secretary of Finance under Republican and Democratic governors. In fact, Ric Brown put together Kaine’s last budget bill, then, under McDonnell, he took it apart. A good Secretary of Finance will carry out the governor’s priorities, no matter the party.

    Finally, the relationship of the Secretary of Finance with the GA money committees is vitally important. All the Secretaries of Finance that I worked under over the years were known by, liked by, and respected by, the legislators and the money committee staff. This will not be the case with Cummings. Knowing that he knows little to nothing about Virginia budgets and government, they will, at best, ignore him. In the end, they will eat his lunch.

    1. You make some excellent points and you make them from a position of real knowledge and experience in the area in question.

      You’ve definitely shown me another way of looking at it.
      Thank you.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive

        Speaking of points… you’d find this cool if you haven’t seen it already…

    2. These are all valid concerns. Cummings will need a couple of experienced hands working in his office or, as you say, legislators will eat his lunch.

      1. YellowstoneBound1948 Avatar

        And he will have them (the experienced hands).

    3. LarrytheG Avatar

      I respect Dick’s view here. Sometimes a new guy can ask questions that maybe haven’t been asked before that should have been – though.

      Budgeting. not done right, can have consequences as we saw with the VDH water issue but a few years back, I seem to recall a badly done forecast that hurt Virginia a few years back and hope we don’t repeat that.

    4. VaPragamtist Avatar

      I agree. Finance should have an in-depth knowledge of state government, just as HHR should have a firm grasp of Virginia’s health system and Public Safety should have a strong relationship with local public safety stakeholder orgs like VACP and VSA.

      External perspective is a good thing. But so is institutional knowledge, especially for key positions. I just hope Youngkin’s (entirely green, outsider?) transition staff realizes this and is careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater when they seek to “innovate” government.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        shades of “deep state”!

    5. Stephen Haner Avatar
      Stephen Haner

      I have some of the same concerns, but will say that many in the bowels of government can arrogantly assume that the private sector “doesn’t get it.” Which is the more challenging arena is not clear. His learning curve could be lessened by the right choice of key deputies.

  7. John Martin Avatar
    John Martin

    not good

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