Yesterday, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) released a report that highlighted the General Assembly’s responsible spending and the continued growth of Medicaid in Virginia. The report showed that general fund spending declined by 5% over the last 10 years when adjusted for population and inflation, and that Medicaid spending remains the largest and fastest growing part of the state budget.
The budget has two parts: the General Fund and the Non-General Fund. The General Fund is the discretionary budget. This is where your income tax, most of your sales tax, and corporate tax goes, and our elected officials decide what to fund in government. This pays mostly for the state share of Medicaid, Welfare, Parks, K-12 Education, Higher Education, Police, Prisons, and our Courts.
The other part of the budget, the Non-General Fund, is non-discretionary. This is for all funds that are charged for specific purposes (e.g. your gas tax and titling tax goes to transportation, so it is non-discretionary.) Besides transportation, other examples of non-discretionary General Fund budget items are college tuition, child support that is collected from parents who aren’t supporting their children by the state, the Federal share of Medicaid, fishing license fees that are designated to parks, DMV fees that are designated to run the DMV centers, Federal Grants, etc. We keep these funds separate because legislators by law, have no choice over how to spend Non-General Fund dollars. All the money is for a designated purpose.
This report shows that your legislators in the General Assembly are spending taxpayer dollars effectively by balancing budgets and making tough decision. While Virginia is on a sensible fiscal path, there are warning signs with respect to Medicaid growth. Medicaid remains the fastest growing part of our general fund budget, growing by 79% over the last 10 years. Medicaid accounts for 54% of all general fund growth. Our current Medicaid program is already on an unsustainable path, and I believe an expansion would only make it worse.
The entire report can be found online at http://jlarc.virginia.gov/pdfs/reports/Rpt475.pdf.