Who’s Minding the Budget?

The Richmond-Times Dispatch reports today that Governor Northam will be leading a trade tour of the Middle East, beginning tomorrow.  This is not unusual; governors routinely tour foreign countries talking up Virginia with government and private leaders in foreign countries.

However, the governor’s budget bill for the next biennium, the only budget that he will have complete control over (development and implementation) must be finished by about December 10, less than a month away, with the Thanksgiving holiday in there as well.  Again, this is not unusual; other governors have scheduled their trade trips during the middle of November.  This was frustrating for the budget writers in the Department of Planning and Budget because a lot of decisions had to be delayed until the Governor got back, thereby piling the work on the budget into the last few days before it had to be sent to the printer.

Notwithstanding the timing, the Governor’s absence this year probably will not cause many problems with budget development due to his approach to this activity.  Every Governor has his own style, but basically they fall into one of two categories: diving into it or delegating.    Allen, Warner, Kane, and McDonnell spent a lot of time going over the details, whereas Gilmore delegated a lot of the decisions to his chief of staff.  More recently, McAulliffe and, now, Northam have delegated a lot of the initial review and vetting of the budget proposals to their policy office.  So, the initial review of recommendations from DPB will be done by the policy office and Northam will have that office’s recommendations before him to ratify when he returns from his trade trip.

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9 responses to “Who’s Minding the Budget?

  1. “Again, this is not unusual; other governors have scheduled their trade trips during the middle of November. This was frustrating for the budget writers in the Department of Planning and Budget because a lot of decisions had to be delayed until the Governor got back, thereby piling the work on the budget into the last few days before it had to be sent to the printer.”

    Big news for Governor Northam … there are both phones and internet in the Middle East. Even better …. a Middle Eastern city like Riyadh is 8 hours ahead of Richmond. If Northam wraps up his taxpayer funded vacation … err ….. useless junket …. err ….. crucially important business development excursion by 8:00 pm Riyadh time he’ll still have 5 hours to work on the budget when it’s between noon and 5:00 pm in Richmond.

    I realize previous governors have taken similar junkets in search of export markets for Virginia goods. In fact, the practice goes back about as far as I can recall. All of which make me wonder why Virginia is #41 among the states in value of goods exported.

    “Citing the ongoing trade war and saying states must take international trade into their own hands, Gov. Ralph Northam announced a plan to take Virginia from being 41st in the country for exports to the top 20 in 15 years.”

    https://www.pilotonline.com/inside-business/vp-ib-northam-trade-1118-20191113-izwdszrwm5gh7j3uuu4mhg2c7m-story.html

    So, we’re 13th in state GDP but 41st in exports. All despite the seemingly obvious waste of money spent by our governors flying around the world each year for the past several decades. Now “Plantation Ralphie” says we’ll move up 21 spots in 15 years once he gets the ball rolling by hob nobbing with sheiks.

    Is there any aspect of Virginia government that Virginians should take seriously?

  2. Any budgetary process that delegates more authority to Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne is a good one, in my humble opinion. The more input Layne has, the better. Virginia will be facing tremendous spending pressure, as I have outlined in several posts. While Layne may not be a conservative’s idea of a budget cutter, he is certainly more fiscally restrained than the new crew elevated to power in the General Assembly.

  3. All of this has me thinking about how Northam et al will get to the Middle East and back. Middle seats in economy class on a commercial flight? Business class? First class? Charter? Since every dollar spent on transportation for this flight is a dollar that isn’t available to right previous racial wrongs one has to think Northam will cut expenses to the bone. Right? Right ….. ?

    Do the Republicans have enough sense to get video or at least pictures of Northam, his wife (I assume), and his entourage boarding that large and expensive charter plane to head to the Middle East? You know … to get Virginia out of a Redskins-like cellar among states regarding exports over the next 15 years. 15 years ago Mark Warner was governor. Why didn’t he think of this?

  4. I wonder whether Northam will wear blackface in the Middle East or at least dress up as Lawrence of Arabia.

  5. Gawd Forbid he takes a Rolex watch as a gift and his wife gets goodies also!

  6. The blog post about nothing. Good grief, DJ had it right, I expect Northam will be in constant contact and has already handed his staff his priority list…..

    • Apparently, he will be fully able and capable of not only chewing gum while governing but practicing his black face also?

      And in his spare time figure out how to kill even more babies?

      COOL!

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