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Review of Virginia State Spending: 2010 Update

The Virginia General Assembly's Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC) released their latest report on state spending last December (requires Adobe). The report is the tenth in a series that requires JLARC "to develop an annual reportt on State spending growth and to identify the largest and fastest growing functions in the State budget." Here are the four key findings from the report:

  • Over the past decade, Virginia’s total operating budget has increased 59 percent—a 20 percent increase in general funds and a 103 percent increase in non-general funds. However, Virginia’s budget growth has slowed as a result of the State’s general fund experiencing a decline over the last three fiscal years. (Chapter 1)
  • Adjusting for the effects of inflation (which increased 23 percent between 2001 and 2010) and population growth (Virginia’s population grew ten percent over the period), the total budget and the non-general fund increased by 19 percent and 51 percent, respectively. In comparison, the State’s general fund experienced a decline of ten percent on this basis over the ten-year period. (Chapter 1)
  • Budget growth over the last decade 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. Of the 207 budget programs, three—in health care, education, and transportation—accounted for nearly 60 percent of all budget growth during the period. (Chapter 2)
  • The general fund growth rates of 23 agencies exceeded the overall general fund growth rate of 20 percent from FY 2001 to FY 2010. General fund budget growth during the ten-year period was dominated by a few large agencies, reflecting policy decisions and initiatives of the Governor and General Assembly during theperiod. The general fund appropriation of 51 agencies grew more slowly than inflation or decreased over the ten-year period. (Chapter 2)
The report also notes that Virginia's budget growth has slowed in recent years and that most budget growth occurs in a few state agencies. It's worth taking a few minutes to study the report to understand where your state taxes are being spent.

By the way, we growled on the prior year's JLARC report on November 12, 2009.

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