GOV.-ELECT Ralph Northam will take office in January during a time when the commonwealth is trying to jumpstart its economy, reform its tax structure and find ways to pay for its most essential needs.

As legislators and the governor work on the state budget in the coming months, they will be confronted with a limited pool of dollars and ever-increasing needs for K-12 education, higher education, health care, transportation, public safety, pension funds, and an assortment of other priorities that compete for funding.

During his campaign, Northam discussed specific plans he wants to implement in each of those areas during his term as governor. To do so, he’ll need a strong, savvy, experienced leadership team that can work with the General Assembly and within the various state agencies to accomplish those goals.

That’s why his choice of Aubrey Layne as the commonwealth’s next secretary of finance is such an important and welcomed appointment.

Layne will be at the center of the discussions involving Virginia’s spending priorities, and he will be an essential adviser on how state government can operate more effectively and efficiently.

He is finishing a successful term as secretary of transportation, where he led a transformation in how that agency operates, including how road projects are approved and funded. He also worked to reduce inefficiencies that can bog down large, bureaucratic agencies.

During his tenure, the Department of Transportation implemented a process called Smart Scale to evaluate roads projects and determine — based on a neutral scoring system — which ones should be prioritized for state funding. The scoring system removes a lot of the politics and opinions from the process, and it ensures that all requests will be handled fairly and transparently.

The commitment to transparency is one of the strengths of Smart Scale and is an important hallmark of good government.

Layne also brought to the position a higher-level understanding of risk management and risk assessment. He understands complex contracts and knows how to ensure that the commonwealth protects itself and taxpayers. As secretary of finance, he will expand his risk-management efforts into other areas of state government while continuing to keep an eye on the reforms implemented in the Department of Transportation.

And while it’s good news that…