HARRISONBURG — Four state lawmakers from the Valley reacted similarly to Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s announcement Friday that Virginia faces a revenue shortfall of $1.5 billion.

McAuliffe announced in July that the state closed the 2016 fiscal year on June 30 down an estimated $266 million in revenue. The picture came into sharper focus this week and was closer to $280 million.

In addition, the state forecasts $1.2 billion in lower revenue than was anticipated earlier this year, when the General Assembly and McAuliffe approved a $105 billion spending plan for this fiscal year and next.

Dels. Steve Landes, R-Weyers Cave, and Tony Wilt, R-Broadway, joined Sens. Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham, and Emmett Hanger, R-Mount Solon, in blaming an influx of lower-paying jobs, which in turn produced lower sales and income tax revenue, for the shortfall.

“It’s different for the government than it is for you and me,” Wilt said. “Your employer pays you, and that’s how you budget. With the government, it’s kind of a guessing game. You try to base a budget on what you believe the economy is going to do, and we didn’t see the growth we anticipated.”

Landes, who is vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said he believes the shortfall could eventually prove to be worse than forecast at $1.7 billion.

“That’s still not as bad as the past — that’s the good news,” Landes said. “The bad news is the economy in Virginia. We’re adding jobs, but the new jobs are not as good-paying. Instead of 3 to 4 percent growth in tax revenues, it’s more like 1.6 percent — and that’s not healthy for Virginia.”

Landes, however, said he believed the Harrisonburg-Rockingham County area economy is in a better position to grow than Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads and metro Richmond, saying bioscience departments at James Madison University and Blue Ridge Community College could help create jobs for graduates who want to stay in the Valley.

“This [shortfall] is not unprecedented, and we will deal with it responsibly,” said Obenshain, a member of the Senate Finance Committee. “Virginia’s place as one of the best places to do business has fallen as some of our neighbor states have been more aggressive in making themselves more attractive to employers with higher-paying jobs.”

Hanger, who is co-chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, outlined ways in which the state could make ends meet while revenues lag.

“We have built into the budget a salary increase for state employees, and that might have to wait a little while,” Hanger said. “The budget language says if we don’t meet revenues, we can delay it. We’ll have to address that. That’s a piece of it.”

Contact Tony Brown at 574-6286 or tbrown@dnronline.com

(8) comments

billnonymous

Maybe he can resurrect that "death put bond" scam where he and his buddies sought out and cheated cancer patients out of life insurance money. Terry was caught red handed with $80k, which he quickly donated to the ACS and gave us all a sheepish apology. His friends were sent to prison, but the Clinton patsy skated away. Since it's apparently legal for him to scam cancer patients, I figure he can bring that scam back. Or maybe he can work some of that investment magic where he invests $100,000 into Global Crossing, then withdraws $18,000,000 just days before it collapsed, taking the employee pension money with it. If he can scam some more cancer patients and raid some more employee pension funds, he can have us out of that debt in no time!

MHM

Can't help but wonder who the incompetent bean counters were who were providing information to the Governor.

Sane Man

Way to go Governor McAuliffe. Your leadership skills are proving to be immeasurable. A 1.5 billion dollar shortfall that is likely to grow. According to Wikipedia, McAuliffe earned millions as a banker, real estate developer, home builder, hotel owner, and internet venture capitalist. Now he is running our state into financial despondency. I'm sure that all the folks that voted for him are quite proud of themselves though!

Bricci

Since the state is under control by a republican majority, Kind of hard to blame it all on the democratic Governor.

Sane Man

If there was a 1.5 billion dollar surplus, the Governor would be standing on a stump while thumping his chest and taking all the credit. Any logical thinking individual knows that to be true, so don't try to deflect the blame. The Democrats had a majority in the Congress during the last two years of the second term of George W. Bush. When the economy went into recession did anyone blame the Congress? That logic is nothing but liberal casuistry!

LVW

Governors and Presidents alike take too much credit when the economy does well and get too much of the blame when it doesn't. But I see no reason to believe that the situation would have been any better if that zealot Cuccinelli had been elected governor. But if you feel the need to blame someone, blame the state GOP for allowing Cuccinelli's supporters to change the primary rules, thereby guaranteeing the likely eventual winner, Bill Bolling, would withdraw from the primary race.

Sane Man

Why change the subject to primary rules? I was talking about the state budget. Seems as if you have no logical defense for the dismal lack of leadership by our Democratic Governor. He must have some brilliant confidants advising him, analogous to the ones that are advising Obama.

LVW

Because Bolling would have been our governor if the state GOP didn't change the rules, and then you wouldn't have to complain about McAuliffe.

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