Virginia A Fiscally Safe Place To Be, McDonnell Says At Reston Appearance

McDonnell: While Washington argues on debt, commonwealth has a surplus and a lot to be happy about.

While politicians in Washington continue to hammer out an agreement on the federal debt ceiling, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said the economic climate in the commonwealth is relatively healthy, stable and well-run.

McDonnell, speaking to the at its annual Awards for Chamber Excellence (ACE) at the Westin Washington Dulles on Tuesday, told chamber members if they ran their own businesses the way the federal government does, they probably would be out of business.

 "We have a state where we are running things on a fiscally safe basis," said McDonnell. "With the federal debt ceiling, what is going to happen in the next seven or eight days will hopefully offer a resolution in the near future. There is no way you could survive if you ran your business the way the federal government runs its business. It has overspent and overpromised, an now those debts are due.

"In Virginia, we found ways to navigate a $6 billion budget shortfall without raising taxes," McDonnell said. "Now we have a [$311 million] surplus. Compared to what is going on in Washington, we are talking savings and surplus here."

Challenges remain for the commonwealth, though. Among them: a stream of unfunded mandates and a retirement system that is underfunded by $18 billion, said McDonnell.

The governor outlined many of Virginia's recent highlights. Among them:

* Unemployment at 6 percent - the third-lowest state east of the Mississippi - and the recent selection by CNBC as the No. 1 business-friendly state.

"Our right-to-work laws are strong," Gov. McDonnell said. "Our taxes are low. We provide a good base of services. The rest is up to you in the business community. ... But we have a long way to go before we are out of the woods. There are still 200,000+ Virginians out of a job."

* Improvements to the transportation infrastructure that will have a positive impact on Northern Virginia business.

"Metropolitan areas are clearly the economic engines of the state," he said. "Without transportation, they are not going to grow and expand."

McDonnell said he approved of Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority's recent reversal on the Silver Line's "cost-innefective underground station."

"I was delighted that MWAA has put in place a structure to get us back to the original estimate of $2.5 billion," he said.

However, the governor said it that project labor agreements - which have been called out by some for adding to the Rail to Dulles construction costs - cannot violate Virginia's Right to Work laws, and that he would like to see Northern Virginia with greater representation on MWAA board (which is weighted heavily with federal, Maryland and D.C. reps).

Looking toward the future, the governor talked about education and energy.

On education, he reiterated his often-made promise to expand access for residents to Virginia's state universities and award more degrees, particularly in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) areas.

"We'ge got to focus on STEM areas, offer more distance learning and run universities like a business," he said. "This, and improvements in K-12 education is going to be key for workforce development."

On energy, the governor's goal is to "find ways to promote all kids of energy development and keep it at a low cost."

Carl July 26, 2011 at 07:09 PM
It starts at the top. With the exception of Jim Gilmore, Virginia has had a long series of fiscally responsible governors, going all the way back to Doug Wilder.
Bill July 26, 2011 at 10:28 PM
John maybe California or New Jersey are more to your taste.
John Farrell July 26, 2011 at 10:37 PM
That's why we have 3 empty prisons and a 4th that's half filled because we rent out the cells to other states. The majority of our state universities have 4 year graduation rates below 40% because there aren't enough classrooms and instructors. Our roads are a mess and there aren't enough of them. There are too many kids in our K-12 classrooms being taught be teachers who have not had a COLA in 3 years, thus, can't make ends meet and leave teaching after 4 years. We've raided the State Retirement system to plug a deficit. Our tax code imposes the same percentage burden on the kid flipping burgers at Mickey Ds as the CEO of the Mars company. Yeah, fiscally Va is in great shape. Penny wise and pound foolish.
John Farrell July 26, 2011 at 10:45 PM
We compete with those states for high paying jobs, and with Pennsylvania and North Carolina, yet have roads, public universities and K-12 funded at levels comparable to Alabama, Mississippi & Arkansas.
Vince July 27, 2011 at 03:19 AM
A for John!
Will Radle August 03, 2011 at 10:54 PM
The state drives up our real estate taxes by over 31.5 percent costing Fairfax County taxpayers over $501 million annually. Keep reminding Reston that Richmond has a budget surplus when they provide NO support to Phase 2. They reduced support for rail to Dulles by $425 million.
Bob Bruhns August 04, 2011 at 03:10 PM
It is much better that Virginia does NOT compete for the title of overspending champion of the world. That said, the present budget surplus is an illusion, because about three times that amount is still owed to the pension system. This sort of thing is the reason I don't trust 'balanced budget' claims anywhere. We need to keep saving, hard. Not all Virginia Governors were really frugal. Former Virginia Governor Kaine gave MWAA all sorts of unaccountable power, and we see what that is doing for us. Here come the toll increases... or we will pay it in taxes, or companies will own our transportation infrastructure - and guess what, they will charge us to use it, too. Forever. And why should people in southern Virginia and the rest of the country pay for our bloated northern Virginia boondoggle rail line, when we SHOULD have done something affordable, like lots more bus, that can get people from Ashburn to Fairfax, from Sterling to Centreville, etc? We need to stop the madness, and only do things we can actually afford. What a concept!
The Convict August 04, 2011 at 06:25 PM
"And why should people in southern Virginia and the rest of the country pay for our bloated northern Virginia boondoggle rail line..." What kind of lunacy is this statement, Bruhn? NoVa only gets back about $0.30 of every tax dollar that we send to Richmond. I say that if Bland and Wythe counties don't like to send their tax dollars to fund our rail line, then let's just have an agreement where they get to keep their tax dollars and we get to keep ours. That should provide more than enough dollars to fund Metro construction.
Bob Bruhns August 04, 2011 at 07:09 PM
Dulles Rail is wasteful spending on steroids. If we want to take money from impoverished counties in Virginia, then let's at least spend it WISELY. This rail boondoggle should be express bus instead. Maybe it is still not too late to stop the rail madness.
Will Radle August 05, 2011 at 01:24 PM
If elected on Tues, Nov. 8, I will attend the annual conference of the VA Assoc. of Counties on Sun, Nov. 13. We will unite for fair treatment of taxpayers and students throughout VA. The state mandate costs $6.316 billion annually. My plan shifts about $1.750 billion in costs to Richmond to meet a state mandate. All 136 localities benefit. Your concept of “taking money from impoverished counties” does not make any sense. The argument for the status quo is that Fairfax County is rich and other localities are poor. However, localities do not pay taxes; taxpayers pay taxes. Localities balance their budgets. The argument ignores community needs assessments consistently showing 25 percent of Fairfax County households cannot meet their basic needs at least one month per year. Twenty-five percent of Fairfax County’s population is over 270,000 Virginians. As a comparison, the total population of most localities in Virginia is significantly fewer than 270,000 people. Do you want to tell people who cannot meet their basic needs throughout the year that they are rich? No. Neither do I; I choose to stand and, if necessary, fight for them and our entire community. Our ethics do not permit us to harm others in seeking fairness for ourselves. We want to make the investment in developing rail to Dulles for the economic benefits. However, it is fundamentally unfair for Richmond to provide no support for a project that will substantially increase state revenues.
Bob Bruhns August 05, 2011 at 02:48 PM
That is another reason why we should not be wasting enormous amounts of money on a boondoggle like Dulles Rail. Huge road tolls, and huge taxes, certainly will not help people whose basic needs are not being met. It will make the situation much worse. Fairfax County is preparing to absorb a lot of the unexpected funding problems from this mess, and strain its credit rating for it on top of that, at a time when credit agencies are looking very closely at this region because of our dependency on certain federal spending - and we are already looking at a financially crippling situation with the projected road tolls resulting from Dulles Rail. If you want what is good for this region, you need to fight this waste, now.
Frank Sogandares August 05, 2011 at 03:47 PM
too late
Orlina August 10, 2011 at 05:44 PM
Orlina August 10, 2011 at 05:49 PM
And I'm sure you'll willingly sell your house at below market rate, in protest of the "boondoggle", so as not to realize any financial benefit from it. Also, as someone who commutes into DC every day, the metro will certainly meet my basic needs - in that I have to get to work, so I can pay my county taxes, which can then go to subsidize much needed social services throughout the county.
Rod's Sharpening Service December 15, 2011 at 11:59 AM
I saw Ken Cincinelli last night in Oakton and got a photo with him. Ken says the next year's ellection in Virginia will be a dozy. It's my hope that Reston will vote for Ken. I am establishing a Reston Citizens Commuity center where Reston Citizens can take dance lessons 6 for a thirty five dollars and discussd this with Ken. Ken Cincinelli will be the next goverrnor of Virgina and will continue the good work McDonnel has done. I also meet John Fry who, a judgee locally here in Fairfaax who hopes to fill Ken's current position as arrorney general.


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