Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is set to announce a $400 million surplus, making mcommonwealth one of only a dozen states to be in the black for 2010. tax payment schedule two weeks early to pretty up the revenue picture. All these things might be truthy, or even totally true.

My explanation would be: it's the income, stupid. Only three metro areas in the country experienced increases in both real income and net earnings over the last year: San Antonio, the larger D.C area, and Virginia Beach. That means that Virginia's four most populous cities -- Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake and Arlington -- are in the top percentile for earnings stability since the bust.

They can thank the Capitol. Northern Virginia avoided the tsunami by hiding under the umbrella of overall government spending, and military is the largest employer in Virginia Beach and Norfolk metro areas. So yes, Virginia has benefited from capable budget stewards. It's also benefited from living under the arm of Washington, D.C.

I don't know how Richmond or area columnists will try to spin this, but I can guess. Republicans will point to their projected $1.8 billion shortfall in January and say, "Wow, look how fast we turned that around!" Democrats will give more credit to austerity measures passed under former Gov. Tim Kaine and tax raises and prudent budgeting under his predecessor Mark Warner. Tax assessors will point out that the state moved its retail

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.