Commentary Magazine


Virginia’s Fiscal Success Story

The Washington Post reported earlier this week Governor Bob McDonnell announced that Virginia finished its fiscal year with a surplus of $311 million — its second straight year with higher-than-expected revenue. McDonnell said he expects the surplus to increase by at least another $35 million to $40 million after the state calculates taxes for June, the final month of the fiscal year.

“A key to what we have done in Virginia is we decided to budget conservatively, cut spending dramatically and to not raise taxes,’’ McDonnell said at a news conference. “I think, to me, that is the formula for why Virginia — and states like Virginia — have experienced this kind of growth.”

Governor McDonnell credited higher tax revenue — 5.8 percent growth in fiscal year 2011, instead of a forecast 3.5 percent — as the main reason for the surplus. It is the first year since 2008 that state revenue has increased over the previous year. The General Assembly passed a $78 billion budget for fiscal 2011 and 2012 with no general tax increase, but the budget did include several fees and hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts as it closed a $4 billion shortfall during the two years.

Governor McDonnell is among the most effective and popular governors in America. He has provided an example for how to effectively govern in a state where one legislative chamber (the Senate) is controlled by Democrats and the other (the House of Delegates) is controlled by the GOP. At a time when public cynicism about our lawmakers is near record levels, it’s encouraging to see chief executives like McDonnell, who know how to provide strong, conservative leadership – and in the process make their states models of success.