Where would spending reductions come from? Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) exposed some of the pork in Virginia's budget during the state's 2003 legislative session. It totaled $8.1 billion and included $2.4 million for the promotion of Virginia wine, $2 million for the Great Dismal Swamp Interpretive Center, and $117,500 to digitalize President Woodrow Wilson's historical papers.
Each year, approximately $300,000 is appropriated to the Virginia Association of Counties (VAC), allowing a select few of Virginia's local government officials and employees to dine on gourmet food, play golf, and enjoy the spas at one of Virginia's luxury resorts. Who do they think they are, members of Congress? Whatever happened to the Holiday Inn? Why should legislators get digs better than most Virginia citizens can afford? VAC's 2003 annual conference was held at the Homestead Resort in southwest Virginia, one of the ritziest hotels in the country.
South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, a Republican, remains one of the better role models for cutting unnecessary state spending. Faced with budget problems, Sanford formed a commission in 2003 that identified wasteful spending. Adopting the commission's recommendations produced $225 million in immediate savings, with further annual savings of $300 million. Last year, he proposed a budget without a tax increase.
If Democrats think they're going to fool Virginians and the country by pretending Governor Kaine is something other than a traditional tax and spend Democrat, they will be disappointed. That virtually his first act as governor was to announce plans for another round of tax hikes with nothing said about spending reductions marks him as an old Democrat, not a new one.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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