I had to share this phenomenal LTE from Senator Cuccinelli. We should all hope and pray that
To the Editor:
I’ve been living the “budget battle” that’s been in the news this week and I wanted to take a moment to update you on some of the details. On Thursday, the Senate Democrats barely passed their budget and every Republican voted against it. In my experience, tough times have a way of revealing our priorities and this week’s budget did exactly that.
As I often do, I’d like to share some of the facts with you and get your viewpoint.
When it comes to the budget, there are two things that all of us agree on: (1) we are facing a serious – $640 million – budget shortfall, and (2) we must devote significant new resources to improving Virginia’s mental health system.
Unfortunately, that’s where the agreement stops. We can’t even seem to agree on how much money we can expect from tax revenue in the next two years and that is a major concern for me. If we overestimate the tax dollars the state will receive and spend money that we may never see, we’ll be in an even worse situation next year.
Despite the shortfall, Senate Democrats framed their budget around hundreds of millions of dollars of new programs. At the same time, they reduced spending on K-12 education by $43 million, removed $180 million from the funds we allocated to improve transportation last year, and risked the state’s credit rating by taking $423 million from the Rainy Day Fund.
So, help me understand this – we can fund experimental and unproven preschool programs – but we can’t help Fairfax build new schools? Lottery proceeds were always supposed to be for education but this budget diverts them to new spending programs requested by Tim Kaine. By the way, when the state doesn’t honor its financial commitments to help Fairfax or other counties build new schools, the schools still need built, and you and I will pay for them with increased real estate taxes.
Not only are our education funds at risk, Northern Virginia roads once again are the scapegoat for our budget woes. The Secretary of Transportation shows a 1.1 billion shortfall in our 6 year transportation budget. If there is one area where we shouldn’t be cutting funds, it’s our transportation systems. As a Northern Virginian, I would think the Democrat majority leader would know how much we need these dollars, but that does not appear to be the case with his budget reducing last year’s gains by almost fifty percent.
Here is the bottom line for me. The Rainy Day Fund is for emergencies and we need to use these monies carefully because the current recession could get worse and many economists think it will. Six years ago, we faced a six billion dollar shortfall and we took about the same amount out of the Rainy Day Fund then as the Democrats want to take from it now, with a far smaller shortfall. That’s just not responsible and we can do better.
My goal has been to defend the core budget priorities that are important to the people of Western Fairfax and transportation funding is at the top of that list, right next to education and public safety. The Democrat budget puts these core priorities at risk in order fund their pet programs and I could not support it.
So, let me know – do you agree with my vote against this budget or would you have supported it? Why or why not? Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you think.
Senator Ken Cuccinelli, II