God, Jesus and Virginia’s $3 Billion Deficit

Taking a break from the all-consuming matter of the six chaplains who resigned from the state police over the prohibition of mentioning Jesus in their invocations — in which the Northern Virginia Daily, the Washington Post, the Lynchburg News & Advance, and the Richmond Times Dispatch collectively devote 1,516 words to the subject — we turn our attention to the yawning, $3 billion state budget deficit.

And what do we find in the newspapers today?

A 123-word brief in the Times-Dispatch on Attorney General Bob McDonnell’s moves to rein in his expenses (plus 127 words more on the same topic in the WaPo); a 498-word article in the News & Advance on threats to mental health services; and a 410-word story in the Virginian-Pilot on how Gov. Timothy M. Kaine is looking at cuts to the state workforce and, next year, cuts to public school budgets. Grand total: 1,158 words.

Judging by the volumes of ink dedicated to topics competing for readership, many Virginians aren’t remotely serious about the real problems confronting the commonwealth. Purely symbolic issues stemming from America’s raging culture wars are so much more diverting.

Pardon me for dissenting, but a debate over whether or not state chaplains mention “God” but not “Jesus” in their invocations is stupefyingly not what we need right now.

Implicit in the debate as it has been framed so far is that, while the commonwealth deems it unacceptable to mention “Jesus,” it is permissable to mention a single, monotheistic deity acceptable to Christians, Jews and Muslims. Ah, but would that not “offend” the polytheistic faith traditions like Hinduism and animism or the non-theistic traditions like Buddhism? Are the Abrahamic religious traditions privileged somehow? Let’s not even get started on the need for a follow-up ruling on how to treat the “Holy Ghost.” Perhaps we need to create an office of state theologian to sort it all out.

Fortunately, some state officials remain undistracted by the questions currently consuming the State Police. Bob McDonnell announced yesterday that he is cutting his office spending by $3.8 million, or 9 percent, to do his part to address the state’s revenue shortfall. Economies include a hiring freeze, leaving currently vacant positions unfilled and eliminating some fax machines and phone lines.

Additionally, McDonnell and his 10 executive attorneys are taking two percent reductions in their salaries, for a savings of $17,000. The AG also is giving up the leased 2005 Ford Explorer the state provides its attorney general, saving another $5,000 over the rest of his term, which expires in January 2010.

The $3.8 million savings represents about 0.125% of the statewide budget shortfall, so there’s a loooong way to go. But McDonnell has a high-profile position, and he’s setting the right tone. Let’s just hope he’s not called upon to weigh in on the matter of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


11 responses to “God, Jesus and Virginia’s $3 Billion Deficit”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    Re: Jesus and the chaplains. Here’s a Hindu prayer from Rig Veda:

    “Who really knows, and who can swear
    How creation came, when or where?
    Even gods came after creation’s day,
    Who really knows, who can truly say
    When and how did creation start

    Did He do it? Or did He not?
    Only He, up there knows, maybe
    Or perhaps, not even He.

    Peter Galuszka

  2. Thus begins Jim Bacon’s McDonnell for Governor campaign – a full year in advance of the election.

    Good luck with this, Jim – you’re going to need it. I understand that Jim Gilmore is trailing Mark Warner by 30 points in the latest poll.

    So, who will be the next governor of Virginia? Oh Jim, you just don’t want to know. Heck, I can’t resist – Terry McAuliffe. That’s right – the former DNC head and Hillary’s campaign manager.

    Not just a liberal.

    Not just a NoVA liberal.

    But a dyed-in-the-wool Hillary Clinton lovin’ NoVA liberal.

    I’ve already put in my order for a bunch of McAulliffe ’09 tee shirts and bumper stickers. I’d be happy to send a few down to you for display in Henrico.

    But take heart….

    He’s still less liberal than Brian Moran!!

    Only real challenge to McAulliffe would be for Wilder to run again.

  3. Jim Bacon Avatar

    Groveto: Bacon campaigns for no man. Bacon has no master. (Except maybe his wife.)

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    The numbers are not the problem, so much, but the margins we miss them by. Kaine’s forecasters overshot FY 2007 revenues by $234 million. On Dec. 17, 2007 Finance Secretary Wagner told the House and Senate money committees that FY 2008 revenue would come up short by $407 million. Two months later, in February of this year, Kaine upped that to $1.4 billion. Add another $3 billion now. The average 12-year-old with a Weegie (Ouiga) board can get within $5 billion most days–on most questions. I don’t know what models we’re using, but they appear to have nothing on the SWAG method (Scientific, Wild-Ass Guess) when it comes to forecasting Virginia’s revenues–BKD

  5. sausage factory worker Avatar
    sausage factory worker

    This is the third or fourth time this year that agencies have basically stopped what they are doing to submit cost reduction strategies. Incredibly, some of the submissions received a “never mind,” and smaller or no cuts resulted.

    I am amazed that the current situation, which, to build on Barnie’s metaphor, anyone subscribing to My Weekly Reader could have seen coming months ago, somehow escaped the Commonwealth’s radar.

    If we are to protect our citizens, maintain the roads we have, and keep the social safety net, it is time to make some tough choices and eliminate programs and even agencies.

    Many scoff at little budget items, but over Virginia’s 100+ agencies and institutions, they add up. Just today I heard that those with blackberry devices will now receive new “hands-free” devices in case they’re driving. Putting aside the massive number of workers who don’t really need a blackberry, wouldn’t it have been simpler just to mandate no using them in state cars?

  6. Anonymous Avatar

    Don’t worry, the NoVA gang of buffoons will surely get another tax increase plan brewing. Someone from RoVA will argue that there needs to be a tax increase. The editorial staff at the WaPo will go orgasmic at the thought of more tax increases in NoVA.

    Bill Lecos will figure that a tax increase must be linked to some scheme to permit Tysons Corner landowners to quadruple their density on the backs of taxpayers, so he will join the chorus.

    Someone will say it’s “for the children” and then the NoVA delegation will start to think that, despite the constant complaint that Richmond eats our lunch, “this time it will be different.”

    Meanwhile, the “rubes” of RoVA will start thinking that, indeed, they can eat our lunch one more time. So momentum will again build for higher taxes. Fred Hiatt and company will be pounding the tax increase drum regularly. And the NoVA senators and delegates will start wilting.

    The RoVA GOP will balk, but the NoVA Dems will be so anxious to raise taxes again that they will agree that 95% of the tax increase will be paid by NoVA residents. They will also agree to freeze all state funds coming to NoVA for five years at 1994 levels and give a refundable tax credit to RoVA residents to cover the 5% of the tax increases that would have been paid by RoVA residents.

    Bill Lecos will be fully convinced that he can get a provision into the bill that requires landowners from any part of Fairfax County except Tysons Corner to pay for all cost overruns for Tysons Corner rail stops. Thus, he endorses the revised bill. Business solidarity will keep all Fairfax County businesses in lock step support for the tax increases.

    The WaPo will agree to endorse anyone who votes for the tax increases. The bill passes the GA and gets signed by the Governor.

    State taxes jump in NoVA. The amount of state aid to Fairfax County drops. Real estate taxes skyrocket; while class size increases by five students on average. Meanwhile in RoVA, class size decreases by 10 on average and real estate taxes are cut by 5%.
    The typical resident of Fairfax County feels good because this was done for the children.


  7. comparing notes…

    so far.. my county is cutting … laying off, freezing new hires.

    they’ve asked for department heads to submit 10% and higher budget reductions…

    But .. their 5 year projection show tax increases if we attempt to maintain status quo numbers…

    .. and reassessments will be done shortly – and that will probably cause further erosion.

    … and it does not take into account – potential State cuts.

    How about other counties?

    How is your county handling this?

  8. Anonymous Avatar

    Wasn’t Mark Warner’s – John Chicheseter’s big tax restructure/increase supposed to fix this problem once and for all?


  9. Anonymous Avatar

    Pray for financial deliverance.

  10. The United States of America is about as far from united as we’ve been since the Civil War. The two major parties agree on virtually no major issues. The only time they agree is when it involves tax rebates and pork projects for their constituents.
    Mathew Hadley

    Internet marketing

  11. Anonymous Avatar

    So, uh, who's thinking Deeds will win now, eh?

Leave a Reply