Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Petersen's Peculiar Proposal

News item from the invisible campaign (the one for both parties' nomination for Virginia's lieutenant governor), as reported in the Daily Press of Newport News:

Since nobody seeks out the lieutenant governor, Democrat Chap Petersen proposes moving the office out of Capitol Square and into six regional offices if he's elected to the largely ceremonial office. . . .

Petersen said he would shutter the lieutenant governor's permanent office in the office building just south of Capitol Square and open regional storefront operations in Hampton Roads, central Virginia, northern Virginia, Southside and southwest Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley.
Considering that the lieutenant governor has no responsibilities other than presiding over the state Senate on ceremonial occasions or when there is the possibility that a tie-breaking vote is needed, and waiting for the governor to leave office unexpectedly, what is the purpose of increasing access to his office by opening up satellite units around the state?

The Washington Post reveals this:
The lieutenant governor's budget is a relative paltry $312,000...
Paltry? Almost a third of a million dollars taken from the earnings of taxpayers paltry? For an elective office with virtually no responsibilities outside the months of January and February?

The question we should be asking is not, Does Chap Petersen have a good idea?, but: How can we reduce the lieutenant governor's budget by a half or more?

If the duty-less lieutenant governor can't afford to run his office on $100,000 or less, maybe we should consider eliminating the constitutional requirement that we elect a lieutenant governor itself. After all, when was the last time a governor left office before his term was up?

Since nearly all state attorneys general run for governor anyway, we might as well make the AG the constitutional successor as well as political heir-apparent. We'll save some money and get rid of an essentially useless office.

No comments: