The moral and fiscal cost of conservatism to Virginia's taxpayers
January 31, 2012
Yesterday, we reported on how Governor McDonnell's budget cuts are hurting seniors and low-income families. Today we will share how ideologically conservative legislation is actually costing all Virginia taxpayers millions, at a time when they should be focused on creating jobs and strengthening the economy.
Progressive Point: Conservatives campaigned on creating jobs and helping Virginia's communities get back on their feet. But over the past three weeks, their focus in the General Assembly has been on bills that will cost taxpayers millions while undermining our democracy. Unnecessary proposals to require voters to present certain kinds of ID, to drug test recipients of unemployment and welfare benefits, to privatize Virginia's schools and to require women to pay for an unnecessary ultrasound before they can get an abortion will cost taxpayers millions.
Conservative leaders like Bob McDonnell have already signaled their support for corporations over constituents, pushing a slew of tax breaks and loopholes for business while cutting millions from health care and education. It is sad that year after year they attempt to cut programs that help our students and struggling families, but the fact that they would rather spend money on partisan politics than focus on jobs and rebuilding the Commonwealth's economy is dumbfounding. Virginians deserve representatives who prioritize strengthening our communities, but conservatives are sadly more interested in costly ideological politics.
Get the Facts:
- State Senator Janet Howell that the bill to force women to have an ultrasound, and keep the image in their medical file, would force women "to have an unnecessary medical procedure, it's adding to the cost and it's opening them up for emotional blackmail." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 31, 2012)
- Forcing welfare recipients to submit to drug testing in Virginia will cost taxpayers $1.3 million dollars each year to enforce. (Roanoke Times, January 25, 2012)
- New conservative voter suppression bills would have two major costs:
- Provisional ballot costs:
- Eliminating the sworn affidavit provision and pushing voters into provisional ballots significantly increases the volume of voters casting provisional ballots.
- A Nebraska study found that a provisional ballot costs the registrar approximately $30 per ballot cast in time spent on administration and adjudication.
- According to numbers provided by the Chesterfield County Registrar, had this measure been in effect during the last election cycle, Chesterfield County would have seen a 328% percent increase in the number of provisional ballots that the electoral board would have to certify. This is time-consuming and costly and could delay the outcome of an election.
- There will be a need for increased training on processing of provisional ballots and increased number of provisional ballots to print and process.
- Photo ID Costs:
- The voter ID program is likely to cost taxpayers millions of dollars each year to implement. Virginia will have to offer free IDs to new voters who don't currently have acceptable form of ID. For example, in Indiana, the State Bureau of Motor Vehicles issued 771,017 free photo IDs between 2007-2010 at a cost of over $10million (according to Jeremy Burton, the Help America Vote Act outreach manager with the Indiana Secretary of State's office).
- Introducing new photo ID requirements will require an extensive public education campaign, including mailings, advertising, and public service announcements, updating forms; updating websites, etc.
- They would also require added poll worker training and potentially more poll workers. These proposals essentially require that poll workers perform a quasi-law enforcement function - checking the validity of individuals' identification requirements.
- There will be added administrative costs that the State Board of Elections and local registrars' offices will incur in order to enforce these voter ID laws.
- Provisional ballot costs: