Richmond, VA - Today, Politifact Virginia took another claim by the outside group Crossroads GPS to task. Politifact reports contrary to claims made by the secret money-funded group run by Karl Rove, Governor Kaine cut spending during a tough recession and is the only governor in decades to reduce the size of the Commonwealth’s general fund budget. In addition, Politifact's write-up also highlights just how above average George Allen performed in the area of increasing spending. While governors before Kaine averaged a general fund increase of 33.8 percent (compared to Kaine's reduction of the general fund by 2 percent), Allen increased Virginia's general fund by a whopping 45 percent when he was governor.
From Politifact Virginia:
A cleaner measure of a governor’s fiscal record comes from examining the general fund, which supports public education, health and public safety. It’s mostly supported by state income and sales taxes over which a governor has strong influence.
Kaine, in promoting his record as a budget slicer, refers to cuts he made to the general fund. We recently rated as True his claim that the general fund shrank during his governorship; it stood at $15.1 billion at the start of his administration and dropped to $14.8 billion at the end. That’s a 2 percent decrease. Under the six governors before Kaine, the general fund grew by an average 33.8 percent.
There are two key points to keep in mind in considering Crossroads’ statement that spending soared under Kaine: 1) All of the increase took place in the non-general fund over which governors have little or no control, and; 2) The increase in total state spending during Kaine’s term was roughly half the average of the six governors who preceded him.
Crossroads said, "When Tim Kaine was governor, spending soared, blowing holes in the budget every year." Let’s sum up our two-part test for fact-checking this claim:
1. Did spending soar under Kaine? The total state budget went up by $5.9 billion during Kaine’s term, representing an 18.4 percent increase increase [sic] in raw dollars and 9 percent rise adjusted for inflation. Kaine had little control over the growth, which was largely the result of increases in federal grants, college tuition and fees charged by state hospitals. Overall spending did increase under Kaine; whether it "soared" is a matter of opinion. The total budget under Kaine increased at half the average rate of the six governors who preceded him.
2. Did spending growth cause the shortfalls? The answer is no.
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