Letter provided to Virginia Delegates and State Senators on Lobbying Day (January 16) at Virginia’s General AssemblyMy colleagues and I urge you to cut back on spending proposals in view of the $1.5 billion deficit in the biennial budget forecast at the Retreat in November 2016. At least two new budget bills would bring the deficit to about $2.0 billion. FY 2016 revenues grew only 1.7% per Retreat documents, but the spending proposals grow 4.6 times the 2016 revenue growth rate. Please follow the Retreat recommendations for budget cuts; nevertheless, they only cover half of the deficit. More cuts are necessary.
Please do not increase taxes. Economic growth is still projected to be slow (see the Retreat documents). Higher taxes exacerbate slow growth.
We urge you to support the Governor’s proposal not to expand Medicaid. The fastest growing uncontrollable budget items are Medicaid and debt service. Continued movement of Medicaid patients from institutions to private home care lowers costs and makes patients happier. Tightening eligibility rules helps lower fraud and encourages responsibility. Require Medicaid patients to sign end-of-life forms. Most people have them, but those that don’t can cost the hospitals and Virginia taxpayers over $100,000 for each for mandatory heroic maintenance of life.
Subsidies of the tolls on the Dulles Toll Road should cease. Poorer downstate taxpayers should not subsidize wealthier Northern VA users.
Expand the government employees’ retirement age to 67 and move more to a 401(k) or Federal government type retirement plan. The Virginia Retirement System earned only one percent last year, but the actuarial assumption is seven percent. Defined benefits and low funding are leading to pension insolvency in some cases. VRS and some VA counties’ plans are inadequately funded.
Stop subsidizing illegal aliens and refugees with health care, in-state tuition, and welfare. Subsidies just attract more illegals. Virginia should decide on which refugees to take. Refugees no longer get tested for diseases, and there appear to be increasing incidences of disease, including very communicable TB that is immune to drugs.
Provide tax credits for parents of students who are home schooled or attending private schools. A $5,000 tax credit per student not in a public school would save public schools $10,000 per student per year.
Require transit and bus service fees to cover the costs, rather than be subsidized. Road users pay operating costs for their cars and pay for the roads with gasoline taxes, so transit and bus users should pay the expenses and capital replacements.
Require high schools to offer more trade type courses (e.g., carpentry, plumbing, cooking). This will help avoid unskilled students leaving high school to go on welfare or become criminals.
Permit Virginians to buy health care insurance across state lines, if the Federal Government permits it. Make health insurance costs deductible for VA income tax. Require abortion clinics to meet hospital standards of cleanliness and medical professionalism. Require medical providers and hospitals to make available fee schedules on request. Encourage EMTs, schools, and police to have available heroin-overdose antidote naloxone / Narcan and appropriate training for use.
Be more realistic in economic and spending forecasts. The Rainy-Day Fund is essentially fully used with the current spending.
Thank you for considering my comments.