- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 15, 2002

RICHMOND (AP) A commission studying government cost and efficiency accepted general criteria for pruning state waste yesterday rather than a specific list of agency cuts, leaving its chairman to question the panel's will for making tough choices.
In a raucous, hastily called session, former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder's Commission on Efficiency and Effectiveness rejected Mr. Wilder's suggestions for cutting or merging a handful of agencies, including at least one Cabinet position, and selling state-owned liquor stores.
Instead, the commission voted unanimously except for Mr. Wilder's abstention to embrace a report listing nonspecific criteria such as "appropriateness," "redundancy and duplication" and "effectiveness" for Gov. Mark R. Warner to use in making cuts.
Mr. Wilder, a Democrat, said the report "means nothing" and questioned its author, Mr. Warner's deputy chief of staff, Maurice Jones, about whether the Democratic governor had seen the report.
Mr. Wilder said he planned to call Mr. Warner, who was vacationing yesterday, and ask him whether he wanted the panel to propose specific cuts.
"I really think there are some members of the commission who don't want to do this. I don't know names," he said.
Mr. Wilder said he believed Mr. Jones' report was motivated by a lack of will to make tough decisions more than any concern of the governor.
The former governor had offered the recommendations, including eliminating the secretary of administration from the Cabinet, two weeks ago in a letter to Mr. Warner, his Cabinet and commission members.
Last Friday, he called yesterday's meeting, saying Mr. Warner should see proposed cuts as soon as possible.
As Mr. Wilder pressed for his list of cuts that he estimated could save the state up to $500 million in this two-year budget cycle, commission members balked, especially former Sen. Hunter B. Andrews of Hampton and corporate executive John O. "Dubby" Wynne.
Mr. Warner on Monday will tell the legislature's budget committees that the state faces a revenue shortfall far worse than the administration anticipated just a few months ago. He will reduce the state's revenue forecast and is expected to announce some short-term cost savings.
Ellen Qualls, the governor's press secretary, said a call would be arranged between Mr. Wilder and the governor tomorrow. She said Mr. Warner had not seen the list of general criteria.
"The governor said he would be very receptive to a specific list of recommended cuts. It needs to be carefully and thoughtfully developed," Miss Qualls said.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide