As we work with the state budget this year, a series of actions are being taken to improve transparency in the budget process. This is the shorter session, 45 days, so the work on the budget is to “tweak” the biennial budget that was passed last year. We work to stay in line with revenues received and revenues projected during the second year of the budget.
The Appropriations and Finance Committees meet regularly during the session and bring forth the budget proposals and changes. Those changes must be reconciled between the House of Delegates and State Senate Conference Committees.
Speaker Bill Howell has announced procedural changes to improve transparency before final votes are taken by the House. The House of Delegates will wait 48 hours prior to voting on the final budget conference report and will provide members with a comprehensive list of all (i) non-state agency requests, (ii) new items in the conference report not included in the budget originally passed by either chamber and (iii) items similar to legislation that failed in either chamber.
There are bills coming forth to require that legislation with a local fiscal impact be introduced prior to session and to require the budget conference report to be posted online for at least 48 hours before a final vote can be taken.
An important fact to remember about the Virginia budget is that it must balance. We do not spend dollars that we do not have.
It appears that we have some good news at this time. Revenues are increasing more than projected, approximately 6.8% year-to-date against the 3.1% revenue forecast, leaving Appropriations with additional cash heading into FY2016.
We are looking at a conservative budget focused on basics.The House proposal will use this modest revenue increase to eliminate fees, protect our AAA credit rating by paying cash for capital projects, protect tax incentives that work for families and businesses and provide pay raises for state police, state employees and teachers.
Below is a list of some of the proposals:
Eliminating onerous fees – The House proposal will eliminate the most onerous fees proposed by Governor McAuliffe, including the restaurant inspection fee, weights and measures fee, saltwater fishing license fee and the increase in the underground storage deductible.
Protecting the coal tax credit – The House proposal will protect the coal employment tax credit, which is a major economic driver in Southwest Virginia.
No cuts to K-12 education – Like the supplemental budget adopted in November of 2014, the House proposal will not make any cuts to K-12 education.
No additional cuts to higher education – The General Assembly eliminated half of Governor McAuliffe’s proposed cuts to higher education in November’s budget. The House proposal will not contain any additional cuts to higher education.
Pay raise for State Police – The House proposal will fund a pay raise of at least 1% for state police, provide funding to adjust for salary compression and restore approximately $4 million in overtime funding.
Pay raise for classified state employees – The House proposal will fund a 1% pay raise for classified state employees and provide funding to adjust for salary compression.
Pay raise for state-supported local employees – The House proposal will fund a 1 to 2% pay raise for state-supported local employees.
Pay raise for teachers – The House proposal will fund the state’s share of a 1 to 2% teacher pay raise. This will be the second pay raise for teachers in three years.
Building on investments in mental health care – The House proposal will build on last year’s $54 million investment in mental health care.
There are many details to be worked out for these proposals, but I wanted you to see the focus from the House side and know that there are no tax increases proposed. We try to have efficient money management.
As always, I hope that my 14th District constituents will let us know how you feel about the state issues that are before us. If you want to read or keep up with Virginia legislation, you may go on line to: http://legis.virginia.gov/
We are currently in our office in Richmond located in Room 702 of the General Assembly Building. You can contact us by sending an e-mail to DelDMarshall@house.virginia.gov or by sending a letter to me at PO Box 406, Richmond, VA 23218-0406, or by calling 804-698-1014. And, visit www.dannymarshall.com to complete our 2015 Survey (on lower right Homepage).