The commonwealth, which struggled throughout the winter and spring to slash expenditures to counter sagging revenue collections, ended its 1991 fiscal year with a $72 million surplus.
But Paul W. Timmreck, Virginia's finance secretary, expressed continuing caution about the state's economy.
"It's good news on the budget front, it's good news on the management front," Mr. Timmreck said. "But we see nothing that suggests the surplus is the result of an economic recovery."
He said there is a "tendency" among state agency heads to want to seize the surplus to restore some of the cuts made last fiscal year. But Mr. Timmreck said such action might not be a good idea.
"We need to be as vigilant as ever about keeping costs down and economizing," he said, noting that Virginia took in less money last fiscal year than it did before.
"Look at Medicaid," he said. "We are faced with a situation where Medicaid expenditures will continue to grow faster than general fund revenues."
Mr. Timmreck said that, some grumbling not withstanding, Virginians by and large are facing up to the new economic reality. "If we have to open our parks later and close them earlier, is that acceptable to the people?" he asked. "Yes, we think so -- if it means no tax increase."
State officials now are developing a revised revenue forecast for the 1992 fiscal year. Should the state be able to avoid budget cuts this summer, some of the surplus from last fiscal year may be used to increased spending for education.