Regimbald doesn't dispute those rosy forecasts, but he points out that Virginia's reserves are essentially gone, deferred obligations will come due, and (most importantly) federal stimulus funds that helped keep the state, local governments, and public schools afloat will run out. He, like most economists, expects job creation to lag the recovery - unemployment will continue to be paid while tax receipts remain low.
Regimbald concludes in Virginia's State Budget - A Train Wreck About to Happen:
What are our options? First, do everything possible to encourage job creation in Virginia by prioritizing Virginia’s investments in education and improvements to our infrastructure. A healthy economy is the only long-term answer to a healthy public sector. Next, Virginia’s government is going to continue to get smaller and even core programs are going to be reduced further. Finally, determine whether Virginia’s tax structure and rates are adequate to sustain a high quality public education, public safety, health and welfare, and transportation system that Virginians have come to expect. This debate may result in the roll back of tax relief that has been provided over the last decade.
If you look carefully at the words and plans of the gubernatorial candidates, you will find one, Creigh Deeds, willing to honestly discuss the looming train wreck with voters while the other, Bob McDonnell continues playing dodgeball on transportation while engaging in smoke and mirrors budgeting. As the Washington Post points out:
And rather than leveling with Virginians about the cost of his approach, as Mr. Deeds has done, Mr. McDonnell lacks the political spine to say what programs he would attempt to gut, or even reshape, in order to deal with transportation needs.
It all comes down to trust. McDonnell has run a slick campaign to re-image himself. If he wins, which Bob McDonnell will show up? How would he deal with the train wreck? Because of his mixed signals and double talk, Virginia voters don't really know. We know Creigh Deeds. He talks straight. What you see is what you get. We can trust Creigh Deeds. More insights from the WaPo:
[Creigh Deeds'] record in the legislature ably blended the conservative interests of his constituents with an agenda reflecting the prosperous, politically moderate face of modern-day Virginia. He has been a longtime champion of a more enlightened, bipartisan system of drawing voting districts, a stance to which Mr. McDonnell only recently gravitated. He has played a constructive role in economic development by shaping the Governor's Economic Opportunity Fund, which provides incentives for investors in Virginia, and he has stood for responsible environmental policies, including green jobs and alternative energy research. Despite his rural roots, Mr. Deeds has been ideologically flexible....