|Some things being tossed around regarding future retirement benefits of those covered by the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) won't help in the short run but will penalyze state employees and teachers who will be hired after July 1.
In order to save a mere $74 million of the estimated $4.2 billion budget shortfall, the McDonnell administration and the Republicans in Richmond are proposing ending the 5 percent the state pays into VRS. New-hire employees will pay that instead, effectively lowering their salaries by a like amount. It won't take long for local school boards that took over the employee payment in the 1980's to follow suit.
Other amounts - with no detail - being bandied about by the McDonnell administration sound like a hit list for the Virginians least able to afford it:
Some state mandates for curriculum and staffing in K-12 public schools may be lowered, so that localities and the state won't have to provide those things. I personally look for the greatest hits to be to assistant principals, school nurses, guidance counselors, etc., all those "extras" schools supposedly have.
Numbers attached to the general categories of cuts the McDonnell administration is considering include $700 million additional cuts from education during the next two years, $300 million from from health and human resources, and $700 million from employee compensation, including requiring unpaid furlough time.
That takes them $1.7 billion closer to erasing the $2.2 billion hole left by not allowing Kaine's one-percent increase in the state income tax to go into effect.
In other words, in an attempt to avoid having everyone share in the pain of further budget cuts through an increase in the income tax rate, the McDonnell administration wants to concentrate the pain among children, the sick and infirm, and those who work in public service jobs.
What may be the worst effects of the cuts?
Elderly nursing home patients could have Medicaid benefits reduced or eliminated. Already in the works is a plan to not allow people in need to fill slots for certain Medicaid services as positions open up - this in a state that already is 47th in the stinginess of its Medicaid benefits.
Sheriff's departments face budget cuts so deep that some rural areas could be looking at not having 24-hour policing. The state police already has a freeze in hiring in place.
Expect to see class size increase dramatically in the schools that have the least local resources available in terms of property taxes. Perhaps we could call that the McDonnell "Leave the Poor Children Behind" policy.
For years, both Republicans and Democrats in Richmond followed a bipartisan tax cutting policy that first began Washington: cut taxes but don't say where you will cut government services. Don't even cut government services. Just borrow the money.
That is unconscionable.
How stupid and irresponsible would we be if we decided to cut our salaries by taking a job that paid less but not lower our standard of living in order to balance the family budget? Just pull out the old credit card.
Politicians have been currying favor with voters for decades - especially those voters with the highest incomes - by saying we can have tax cuts with no service cuts. Ronald Reagan and the "supplysiders" brought that fallacious philosophy to Washington. Jim Gilmore of "no car tax" fame inflicted the same thing on Virginia. At some point we hit a wall.
Welcome to the "Great Recession" wall.