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How Virginia Has Been Spending Your Tax Dollars

Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) released a draft of their latest annual review of state spending (requires Adobe) from FY 2000 through FY 2009. The JLARC draft report highlights four key findings:

  • Over the past decade, Virginia’s operating budget has increased 73 percent. The growth was 46 percent in general funds and 103 percent in non-general funds.
  • Adjusting for the effects of inflation (which increased 23 percent between 2000 and 2009) and population growth (Virginia’s population grew ten percent over the period), the budget increased by 28 percent. (emphasis added)
  • Budget growth remains concentrated in a few State agencies and programs. Eight of the 156 agencies accounted for nearly 70 percent of all budget growth over the past ten years. Seven of the 207 budget programs accounted for 61 per cent of all budget growth during the period.
  • General fund budget growth was also dominated by a few large agencies, reflecting policy decisions and initiatives of the Governor and General Assembly during the period.

Virginia’s operating budget grew from $21.4 billion in FY 2000 to $37.1 billion in FY 2009, i.e., 73.4% over the decade although annual increases ranged from a low of 0.7% (FY 2002) to a high of 10.9% (FY 2005). Moreover, most of the spending is concentrated in just a few agencies/programs:

“Much of the ten-year, $15.7 billion growth in the State budget was concentrated in core functions of State government: education, health care, transportation, and social services. More than half (54 percent) of all budget growth occurred in four agencies: the Departments of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS), Education-Direct Aid to Education, Transportation (VDOT), and the University of Virginia (including the Medical Center). Adding only three more agencies—the Department of Social Services, the Virginia Community College System, and the personal property tax relief program (defined here as an agency)—accounts for almost two-thirds of the ten-year growth in Virginia’s budget.

“A few large agencies received most of the new general fund dollars between FY 2000 and FY 2009. The ten agencies each receiving more than $100 million in new general funds during the period accounted for 96 percent of all general fund growth. The Department of Education-Direct Aid to Education, DMAS, the personal property tax relief program, and the Department of Corrections each received approximately $374 million during the period.”

If you can only review one state financial report, this would be a good one. It contains many helpful charts and tables, highlighting spending in the Commonwealth. 

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