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Virginia governor looks to save money by cutting interstate compact funds

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August 30, 2011

By Lauren Rodgers

Virginia

Richmond, VA: States across the country are tightening their purse strings, making cuts on everything from education to healthcare. Virginia is no exception.

Governor Bob McDonnell has proposed an amendment in Virginia's 2011 General Assembly that would eliminate the dues the state pays to the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River. The commission was established in 1940 by the Potomac Valley Compact, an interstate compact among Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to preserve the natural resources and water quality of the Potomac.

A McDonnell spokesman said "the governor's office had asked state agencies to identify memberships to organizations that would be eliminated to cut costs, [and] the commission was identified as one of several where the state could eliminate the expense of paying dues while not significantly impacting benefits to taxpayers."[1]

If the governor's measure is successful, and no alternate funds become available to cover the approximately $150,000 in dues, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is preparing legislation to formally withdraw from the compact. The commission receives roughly $450,000 each year from compact member states, and Executive Director Joseph Hoffman admitted Virginia's inability to pay was "a little disturbing, yes, but not a killer, and something we can try to make do without."[1]

Hoffman's organization will also have to make do without the $69,000 in dues from the District of Columbia, which has informed the commission it will not be paying dues this year or next. Virginia Delegate Scott Surovell expressed concern about the health of the river and the implication of Virginia's withdrawal on the other states: "Having to manage an ecosystem like that requires interjurisdictional cooperation and coordination. One state cannot dictate to another what that state's going to do. That's why you've got to have an interstate compact."[1][2]

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