Danny's Desk: News from the Virginia General Assembly
Feb 23, 2016

We Vote on the State Budget Thursday--

There are no tax or fee increases in the House of Delegates proposed Budget. Thursday we will vote on the House proposal for the Virginia two-year Budget, 2016-2018.

The process of completing the Biennial Budget has several steps. First, the Governor proposes a budget in December before our legislative session begins in January.

Then, the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees examine the Governor’s proposal line by line, listen to citizen input, and do a great deal of research regarding needs and funding requests. Then the House votes on its proposals -its version of the budget- and the Senate passes their budget version.

Once the House and Senate versions are passed in their respective chambers, Committees of Conference will work to iron out the differences in those budgets and offer one balanced budget for a final vote of both chambers.

We must always keep in mind that the money for the State Budget is coming from the hard work of Virginia citizens who pay taxes. So we must use the money carefully and responsibly.  

Along with rejecting tax or fee increases, this Budget takes steps to eliminate future liabilities, and makes strategic investments in K-12 and higher education. The proposed budget deposits $605 million in the state’s rainy day fund, fully funds the annual contributions to the Virginia Retirement System at 100% of the Board certified rates and re-pays the funds deferred from VRS in 2010 six years ahead of schedule. It sets aside excess revenues to further reduce the size of an already reduced bond package.  

The House prioritizes spending on economic development and re-directs savings to K-12 and higher education. The House budget includes $110 million in new money for economic development, $59 million less than originally requested by Governor McAuliffe. The House instead emphasizes transparency, accountability and oversight by directing funds through GO Virginia and the Virginia Research, Development and Commercialization Fund.

The budget does not include Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion or Governor McAuliffe’s proposed hospital tax. Instead, the House continues to strengthen the health care safety net. The House will invest $28.9 million for substance abuse treatment, to expand eligibility for the GAP program, and create new waiver slots to address the critical waiting list.

In addition to the investments in the state retirement system, the House budget also invests in Virginia’s hard working state employees. It includes a three percent pay raise in the first year of the budget for state employees, college faculty, and state-supported local employees. 

 The House calls for nearly $900 million in new funding for K-12 education, exceeding Governor McAuliffe’s proposal by nearly $70 million.  The House budget also provides added flexibility by restoring over $270 million in lottery proceeds.  These funds are sent back to local school divisions with fewer strings attached than other funding. The budget also includes a pay raise for teachers in the second year, which will be the third pay raise for teachers in a five year period. The House budget includes $237.1 million to hold tuition increases at no more than three percent per year.

This budget addresses core services without raising taxes. It puts special emphasis on economic development and education.  It is a responsible and structurally balanced budget that should help us maintain our triple-A bond rating.

 We are currently in our offices in Richmond. 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 2016 Survey (on lower right Homepage