Roz Helderman

Guv, We Love You. Signed, Roz & Anita

This is almost comical. It’s clear that Anita Kumar and Roz Helderman are in love with Gov. Bob McDonnell. Most of their coverage of him has been almost fawning over the last couple of months. Perhaps most egregious was the story the weekend before the elections. It was on the front page with a headline that blared:  “Virginians share lesson learned: GOP in power not so bad.” Really?  Not so bad, Roz? Well, she maybe didn’t write the headline, but she wrote this:

Voters, including some who didn’t back him, credited Gov. Robert F. McDonnell with working hard and engineering deep budget cuts from a generally fractious General Assembly with relatively little heartache. The result of those efforts was a narrow surplus by the end of the fiscal year, achieved through bipartisan action and without the tax increase that Gov. Timothy M. Kaine proposed before leaving office.

No tax increase, but he borrowed from the retirement fund—and he’s now claiming the budget has a surplus. Which is ludicrous. We only have a surplus because he transferred money from the retirement fund.

The federal government had a balanced budget this year, too. Because it borrowed a bazillion dollars from China.

Saturday’s Metro front page article was but the latest in this line of fluff, though not without its own WTF-edness. Almost the entire article before the jump could have been written by the Guv’s press office.

In his annual speech to the General Assembly’s money committees Friday, McDonnell (R) told legislators that the state’s economy is growing at a pace slightly better than expected, allowing him to raise Virginia’s financial forecast by $283 million over the next two years.

As a result, he announced more new spending than cuts for the first time in years while releasing amendments to a still-lean two-year budget over the last week.

They include down payments on some of McDonnell’s top priorities, which focus heavily on economic development, substantial funding to shore up the state’s pension system, as well as goodies for pet projects, including $500,000 for the state’s food banks and Operation Smile. Proposed cuts include a hit to social services for children, reduced advertising for the lottery and the elimination of state funding for public broadcasting.

"Government must set priorities, encourage cost savings and frugality, fund core functions of government well, set the right climate for job creation and economic development, and then, basically, get out of the way," McDonnell said to a standing-room-only crowd on Capitol Square.

So far, so fawning. Then we have a couple of paragraphs that defy rationalization or really, lucidity.

He took lawmakers and college presidents by surprise by stripping nearly $17 million in funding for Virginia Commonwealth University after it raised tuition 24 percent this year. Other schools increased tuition by nearly 10 percent.

The father of five, including three at Virginia public universities, said he hopes his decision sends a message to the rest of the state’s schools that they can no longer dramatically increase tuition and fees. "It’s leaving our kids with a decade of debt when they get out," he said. "This will certainly be a good message to our higher-education institutions that need to govern their tuition rates accordingly."

Help me out here. He cuts funding to colleges after they raise tuition because the state has been cutting state funding for years and then says that further cuts should teach colleges not to raise tuition. What am I missing here?

Ladies, your love is blind. It also must paralyze your ability to put together a coherent story.

Then, apparently just regurgitating what the Guv’s flaks told them, Kumar & Helderman write:

Against that political backdrop, McDonnell has proposed several major structural changes to government, which would come with substantial price tags.

He said state agencies have not been paying for all of the information technology services they have been using, requiring Virginia to spend $58.3 million more over the next two years. The state is already paying billions for such services as part of a troubled technology overhaul contract with Northrop Grumman.

Agencies “have not been paying for all of the information technology services they have been using.” What, are they past due on the bills Verizon sent them? Who are they not paying? And when they are not paying whomever it is they’re supposed to be paying, why does that require Virginia to pay $58.3 million more over the next two years?  Is that the late fee Verizon is charging them for their internet connection?

Ladies, I understand that love can make you silly sometimes. But have an editor take a look at your missives before publishing them.

And take a cold shower before you write them.