Craig Vitter and I were bantering back and forth a bit over the proposed gas tax increase. Craig thinks it is a good idea because we need to improve roads and finish transporation projects. I, on the other hand, think that maybe some budget cuts would help, or at least some reallocation of funds.
So I'm looking at the 2006-2008 biennial budget for Virginia, and let's see where our money is going. My goal is to see if we can find $500 million that can be trimmed off of the over $70 billion that is budgeted for the current biennium. Here's a few spots I've found and that I would question in future, or cut down, the figures I use are combined from the General Fund and NonGeneral fund for Fiscal Year 2007 and 2008 unless otherwise stated....
I will also preface this with saying that this is just number flipping, I'd have to actually see a better breakdown of the budgets to make really specific cuts. I'm just throwing some numbers around and looking at where they're going in a slightly general sense.
- We should be able to cut the $15 million spent on Jamestown 2007...that's over and done with now.
- $55 million in grants to nonstate entities or agencies...I'd like to see this one explained a little more. Are the recipients of these grants doing anything to bring commerce and/or industry to Virginia? Are they doing anything to increase state income? I'll go on the assumption that they are, so I'll leave them alone...but I'd be interested in seeing how much we could cut from that.
- Department of Taxation has a budget of over $194 million. I imagine that we could shrink that down a bit. Maybe down to an even $180 million. I mean, honestly...the only reason to increase the budget for the Dept of Taxation is if we're going to increase taxes, which is what I'm trying to avoid here.
- Can we shave a couple million from the budgets for each of the major public colleges and universities? The combined budget for the main campus of William & Mary/VT/UVA/JMU/GMU/VCU/ODU/Norfolk State/Virginia State/Radford/Longwood/CNU = $9,615,094,801 for '07 and '08. That's about 13 percent of the budget by itself.
If you averaged cuts that equaled $2 million per school (bigger budget = bigger cut, obviously, but let's just average it out for simplicity's sake), that right there could save the state $24 million, a $3 mil average would save the state $36 million. If you averaged cuts of $5 million, you would save the state $60 million. This is a large portion of the budget that is worth taking a peek into. Let's see if we shave $60 million over two years on this, what it would do.
Note: I didn't even count the $1.9 billion for the UVA Medical Center, VMI, or any special research or experimental divisions, or special colleges (like the Virginia Institute of Marine Biology). I also didn't factor in Community Colleges, general public education, museums, arts projects, or anything of the sort. We can leave those alone for now.
- Secretary of Education = over $1.4 million...for what? Anyway we can shave this down to an even $1 million, or $500,000 per year?
- Judicial Agencies combined = over $769 million. Take it down to $760 million even, if not further.
- The Virginia ABC = over $950 million. Somehow, I think we can cut $25 million from this without any problem.
- General Assembly - Senate = $21,229,665...HOD = $38,115,455. I say we get the Senate down to $20 mil, HOD down to $36 million. Total cut = over $3.3 million.
Just using round numbers, and making relatively modest cuts on only a few programs...I'm saving the state $126.7 million over two years. That right there is pretty much equal to the revenue that would be generated by the proposed gas tax increase.
And really, I've only scratched the surface.