While the federal government continues to drown in a sea of debt, several states are reporting surpluses, thanks to policies Washington would do well to emulate.
Nowhere has the economic turnaround been more immediate than in Virginia. When Governor Bob McDonnell took office in January 2010, he was faced with a $2.2 billion shortfall bequeathed to him by outgoing Democratic governor (and now Senate candidate) Tim Kaine. In less than two years, McDonnell has delivered two budget surpluses without raising taxes or causing harm to the "most vulnerable." Instead, he has judiciously cut spending.
Last week, the governor's office announced a surplus of $544.8 million. That is $234.1 million more than McDonnell told the legislature on June 30 he has saved state taxpayers. Call it compound savings.
According to the Pollina Corporate Real Estate Study: "Pollina Corporate Top 10 Pro-Business States for 2011," "Virginia is the unquestionable brightest star on the American flag when it comes to pro-business. ... Virginia is truly in a class by itself." Nine other states made Pollina's list. Republican governors lead eight of them. Anyone else see a pattern?
Compared to the federal economic picture, Virginia's statistics are astounding: In less than two years, McDonnell's administration reports that it has added 48,200 net new jobs. As recently as 2009, Virginia ranked 35th nationally in jobs created. Significantly, "only 8 percent of net new jobs are government positions."
Virginia's "6.0 percent unemployment rate is tied for eighth lowest in the nation," though the Washington Times reports, "the state will likely have to borrow an additional $251 million ... to pay back the federal government for loans to its unemployment insurance trust fund." The loans were necessary because of the economic recession and the aftermath of the Kaine administration, which ran out of money in 2009 and had to visit the federal trough.
Last month, CNBC named Virginia the "Best State for Business."
In May, a Washington Post poll found that while only 31 percent of Virginians believe the country is on the right track, 52 percent think their state is headed in the right direction.
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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