First they raided the state employee and teacher pension fund to the tune of $630 million dollars. Now it seems they will finish the job off by robbing the jurisdictions. State lawmakers call this the new ‘hand in the cookie jar’ technique of acquiring money the ‘reversion program.’ The ‘reversion program is being used to help compensate for the budget shortfall.
To come up with the money, the localities are giving the choice of writing a check or cutting services in programs they receive state funding for. The plan was originally instituted in FY 2009. According to the Washington Examiner:
The “reversion” program — as state lawmakers call it — originally was excluded from the coming year’s budget, but lawmakers decided to incorporate and expand the policy. As a result, counties and cities will have to return $60 million to the state during each of the next two years.
The municipalities are all madder than the devil. Localities will return some $50 million dollars to the state. It doesn’t look like any of the localities will escape. According to the same source:
“We’re allowed to pick our poison,” said Jon Altshul, a budget analyst for Arlington County. Arlington expects the state to ask for about $1.5 million in cash or spending reductions.
In Loudoun County, officials anticipate sending $1 million back to the state, and Prince William County estimates the county’s giveback at about $1.8 million. In Fairfax, Virginia’s largest county, the figure is closer to $5 million.
“The state calls it a flexible cut,” said Susan Datta, Fairfax’s budget director. “We had anticipated state revenue reductions, but we’re still sorting everything out.”
Local officials expect to have firm numbers from the state in the next few weeks, and must make payments by August.
So the next time some slick Willile comes along with a promise of no new taxes, you might want to rethink the message. I would rather pay a little more in taxes to have decent services and a state government that doesn’t steal from the pension fund and the county. Can Prince William afford a $1.8 million dollar hit? I would say not. How odd that this money would be required after the tax rate has been set. So which old people do we kick to the curb this year? Perhaps we could just pull the money out of the police or fire and rescue budget.
What is going on? Why is the state pulling from the localities? Perhaps the AG ought to be suing the state instead of the United States. He should at least be charging it with theft.