RICHMOND, SEPT. 13 -- The state's budget crisis spilled over to local governments today as Gov. L. Douglas Wilder's administration announced details of a $1.4 billion budget cut, nearly one-fifth of it to be borne by Virginia's cities, counties and schools.
Students at George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College will pay tuition surcharges beginning next semester, 1,100 state workers will lose their jobs, including 99 in Northern Virginia, and public schools -- although they are spared for the moment -- face cuts next year.
Overall, there were more cuts in education, including spending on public schools as well as colleges and universities, than in any other area. Education accounts for 41 percent of all state spending but is responsible for 48 percent of Wilder's cuts.
Education Secretary James W. Dyke Jr. said the cuts aim at reducing unneeded bureaucracy and administration in order to avoid hurting the quality of instruction offered to students.
Nonetheless, Wilder's approach is at least a partial reversal of the emphasis placed on generous education spending during more prosperous times by his two predecessors, fellow Democrats Charles S. Robb and Gerald L. Baliles.
The cuts in aid to local governments come at a time when they are strapped for cash as revenue declines because of the economic slowdown. Fewer services for the public or higher local taxes are likely to be the result.
Money for transportation, a key concern for Northern Virginia commuters, was cut by almost $200 million. Some $75 million will come from delaying new highway projects.
Transportation Secretary John G. Milliken said he doesn't expect a list of the specific projects affected until October or perhaps later. But he stressed that none of the cuts will affect projects on the interstates, such as new HOV lanes on Interstate 95, or the long-awaited commuter rail lines between Fredericksburg and Manassas and the District.
College students will feel the impact through tuition surcharges.
At George Mason University, in-state students will pay $62 more and out-of-state students will pay $186 more in the spring semester.
In a cut whose impact will be felt by literally hundreds of thousands of people traveling on Virginia interstates, the Department of Economic Development is shutting all 10 of its "welcome centers," which will eliminate 40 jobs and save $2.1 million. Highway rest areas will remain open.
Wilder's advisers said the plan will prevent the danger of a deficit or the need for a tax increase even if the economy continues to deteriorate.
The cuts announced today total $1.35 billion, or about 5 percent of the state's budget for two years.
The spending reductions exceed by $8 million the amount needed to balance the budget, according to current projections.
Wilder's press secretary, Laura Dillard, said the $8 million "buffer" is needed because the next updated revenue forecast, due Dec. 15, could be even worse than the ones that precipitated the current crunch.
Dillard also indicated that Wilder will try to hold on to the $200 million "rainy day" reserve that he won during this year's legislative session, saying the governor thinks the state should have a permanent reserve.
The state attempted to protect higher education, Medicaid, mental health and corrections, along with public schools, from cuts, but Finance Secretary Paul W. Timmreck said it was "simply not possible."
"We don't necessarily see this problem going away in two years," Timmreck said.
The plan calls for no general tax increases. It does, however, take back the bigger share of real estate transfer fees that local governments had been promised. That change will cost Northern Virginia $18 million.
In addition to cuts made by state agencies, $383.2 million in profits from the state's year-old lottery, originally intended to pay for building projects, were transferred to pay for state operating expenses.
Karen Washabau, the state's planning and budget director, said the state's 85,000 employees and 15,000 college faculty members will not face further pay cuts.
A total of 1,131 state employees will lose their jobs.
Some of the expected layoffs, including those at George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College, could be spared, however, because of tuition increases.
Del. Warren G. Stambaugh (D-Arlington), a member of the House Finance Committee, pointed out that despite complaints from bureaucrats, the state will still spend more money in the current two-year budget cycle than it did in the previous budget.
"No one ever remembers how big the increases have been in the previous years," said Stambaugh.
Current spending will increase by $887.7 million, or 7.6 percent, over the preceding two years, even with the cuts.
There was bad news for Northern Virginia's crowded jails in Wilder's plan.
Cities and counties around the state will receive $3.3 million less from the state Compensation Board during the current two-year budget cycle to maintain their jails.
Cultural projects also will suffer. Local arts grants and the Performing Arts Endowment, both administered by the Commission for the Arts, are being gutted, for a combined savings of about $3 million.