RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A big announcement today out of the state capitol -- Governor Bob McDonnell revealed a more than $400-million budget surplus. On the heels of drastic cuts the big question now is where will the money go?
The governor was quick to point out that while this surplus is of course a good thing, we shouldn't get "too excited." All but about $70-million is already accounted for.
Virginia finished the 2010 fiscal year with a more than $400-million budget surplus. Among a number of things the governor credits bi-partisan politics, state agencies doing more with less, and higher than expected sales tax revenues. For example, despite the economy, new and used car sales both exceeded expectations by millions of dollars.
"The spending cuts and fiscal discipline that led to this surplus are the result of tough negotiations and agreement between a republican House and a democratic Senate," said Gov. McDonnell.
When asked about democratic criticism that the budget surplus is a gimmick--the governor said facts are fact, and math is math. He reiterated that most of the extra money is already promised. $80-million will go to a one-time 3 percent bonus for state employees.
"We have thousands less state employees than we had a couple of years ago, but the ones that are there, I want them to be highly motivated, well trained, and appropriately compensated," said McDonnell.
"Our state employees have labored for long and hard, and as the governor stated, and we all know that they haven't had a pay raise for three years; they've stayed in there and worked hard, and it's going to come back," said Glen Pond, Lobbyist for Virginia Governmental Employees Association.
$33-million will head to transportation.
"This is a very small and new investment in transportation but it does demonstrate what is possible when better economic conditions return," McDonnell said.
The governor has until November to decide where the unaccounted for $71-million will go. It could go back to the agencies who helped save it or be spent on other priorities like education and public safety.
For more click on Decision Virginia.