The state’s top Republican elected officials have rallied behind a single agenda, one they boldly call “smaller government, stronger economy.” It’s a cute title, one that could even fit on a bumper sticker. It’s also something of a fraud.

Some planks in this agenda will warm the hearts of most Virginia conservatives – a proposed constitutional amendment to further strengthen the state’s property rights laws, House Speaker Bill Howell’s repeal amendment and even a proposal to further buttress the state’s right to work law. The Governor also intends to push for more cuts to some government programs and introduce some discipline into the state’s pension system.

That’s the good news. The bad news – and it’s quite bad – comes from the other proposals, which seek to increase state spending and indebtedness and even grow portions of the state government.

While the Governor aims to shave state spending by roughly $190 million, he is also keen to hike spending  on areas like economic development and higher education.  The Governor also thinks this is a most opportune time to use the state’s charge card for transportation. In the press release from his office, McDonnell says “Leveraging our scarce transportation resources to make them go further is smart management.”

That’s the same sort of sound management practice that created the housing bubble, the tech bubble, the S&L crisis and more.  Then again, what could possibly go wrong with giving a broken and dysfunctional VDOT more money?

As to the plan for increasing the size and cost of government,  Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling says “We must do everything we can to ensure we are attracting more jobs in this area and supporting our current employers who are making advances in bio-sciences, energy technology, and communications infrastructure.”

The rest of you, who may run gas stations, dry cleaners, sandwich shops or, heaven forbid, are lawyers…well, you’re just out of luck.  But that doesn’t mean you’re not important. Far from it. Without the tax revenues you generate, Mr. Bolling’s parlor game of picking winners doesn’t work.  So keep your nose to the grindstone, but don’t expect any thanks for your efforts.

Looking over the good and the bad in this agenda, one thing is quite clear: there’s a split in the GOP’s top ranks. While the press release says that the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General  are “…committed to advancing for the people of Virginia in order to spur private sector job creation and make state government smaller and more efficient,” it’s obvious from the quote placement that not everyone is on board with all this planks.  McDonnell and Bolling claim the more spending, more debt, bigger government planks while the Attorney General is quoted only once, in favor of stronger property rights.

That’s no accident.