Kaine to Cut 929 Jobs, Trim College Aid and Close 3 Jails to Plug Va. Budget Gap
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
RICHMOND, Sept. 8 -- Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine announced Tuesday that he will eliminate 929 jobs, including 593 through layoffs, close three correctional facilities and cut as much as 15 percent in aid to colleges and universities to make up for a $1.5 billion budget shortfall.
Kaine (D) did not propose raising taxes, and limited cuts to K-12 education and local government, but he did trim aid to police and sheriff's departments by 5 to 7 percent.
Most of the state's 102,000 employees will be required to take a one-day furlough in May, and its contribution to their retirement plans will be reduced in the final quarter of the year to save more than $104 million.
The announcement marks the fourth time since the two-year budget began in July 2008 that Kaine has scaled back the state's forecast for tax and fee revenue as Virginia suffers from the worst economic downtown since the 1930s.
"Like all citizens and all businesses, we are having to tighten our belt," Kaine said at an afternoon news conference filled with reporters and lobbyists on Capitol Square.
Kaine will make many of the changes immediately, including increasing fees, such as those to make a state park reservation by telephone or file campaign finance disclosure reports by paper. But he must seek legislative approval to borrow $280 million from the state's rainy-day fund.
All savings must be made by the end of the fiscal year in June.
"We knew there was going to be blood everywhere, but this seems to be a reasonable plan," said Sen. Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax), a member of her chamber's Finance Committee and a budget negotiator, after she was briefed by Kaine on the cuts.
Kaine's proposal includes cuts to almost all state agencies, although higher education and corrections will suffer the brunt of them.
Colleges and universities will be cut 13 to 15 percent, but Kaine said he will ask the federal government for permission to use stimulus money to restore some of the trims, resulting in a decrease of 7.7 percent. The schools might consider layoffs or tuition increases to make up for the loss.
Two prisons, in Brunswick and Botetourt counties, and a juvenile correctional center in Natural Bridge Station will shut down. Inmates will be transferred to other prisons or kept in local jails.
Dana Schrad, executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, said local police and sheriff's departments and the Virginia State Police will lose a combined $56 million this year, in addition to taking more inmates into crowded local jails.