SENATE DEMS MARK FINAL PASSAGE OF COMPROMISE BIPARTISAN BUDGET

Conference report increases funding for education, economic development; fails to close coverage gap

RICHMOND — This evening, Senate Democrats marked final passage of the General Assembly’s biennial budget. HB 30 passed both chambers with broad bipartisan support, and now heads to Gov. McAuliffe’s desk.

Said Sen. Janet Howell (D - Fairfax), ranking member of the Senate Finance committee, “This budget helps reverse past K-12 funding cuts. It increases funding for high-quality preschool, and it aims to lower the cost of college tuition. I am proud to support those common-sense investments, but no compromise is perfect. I remain deeply disappointed that Republicans have again refused to extend health coverage to hundreds of thousands of uninsured Virginians.”

Said Democratic Leader Sen. Dick Saslaw (D - Fairfax), “This year’s budget bill is a responsible compromise. It makes overdue investments in education and economic development, but remains structurally balanced. In passing this bill, we came together to move Virginia forward. This is how the legislature ought to work.”

Said Caucus Chair Sen. Donald McEachin (D - Henrico), “Today, we voted to improve public schools and make college more affordable. We approved new funds for mental health services, accessible housing, and countless other needs. Still, this budget is marred by Republicans’ refusal to close the coverage gap. We have needlessly wasted another year — and with it, the chance to save hundreds of lives.”

BACKGROUND

Senate Finance Committee staff have prepared a thorough review of major actions in this year’s budget conference report; that presentation is available here. The non-profit Commonwealth Institute has prepared a side-by-side that compares the conference report with the House and Senate proposals from which it was derived; that document is available here.

What follows is a list of selected appropriations and policy actions from the new biennial budget:

K-12 Education

  • increase in K-12 per-pupil direct aid as compared to the introduced budget
  • $401 million for standards of quality re-benchmarking
  • $174 million in new, flexible per-pupil funding
  • $134 million for state’s share of a revenue-contingent 2% pay raise for K-12 teachers
  • $34 million restored for Northern Virginia cost of competing adjustment


Early & Higher Education

  • $104 million to expand college access and encourage degree completion
  • $48 million in new funding for undergraduate financial aid
  • $8 million in new funding for graduate financial aid
  • $3 million in additional funding for the Virginia Preschool Initiative


Workforce & Economic Development

  • $36 million to fund GO Virginia, the regional economic development initiative
  • $600,000 for new oversight of economic development initiatives
  • $13 million for workforce certification
  • $26 million in TANF funding, partly routed to workforce development


Health Care & Social Services

  • $57 million for 1,200 new ID/DD waiver slots
  • $15 million inflation adjustment for hospitals
  • $6 million to expand access to mental health services through the Governor’s Access Plan
  • $26 million in TANF funding, partly routed to service improvements (e.g., Resource Mothers)


Public Safety

  • $13 million to increase capacity / improve retention at the Virginia State Police
  • $1 million in new funding for sexual assault crisis centers
  • $4 million to fund unfilled correctional officer positions


Civil Servants

  • $156 million for a 3% pay raise for state employees and faculty at public colleges / universities
  • funds employer retirement contributions at 100% of VRS Board-certified rates ahead of schedule


Other

  • up to $140 million towards expansion of I-66 inside the Beltway
  • limitation of new tolling on existing roads without legislative approval
  • $9 million in new funding for the Dept. of Veterans Services
  • $3 million in new funding for the Housing Trust Fund
  • $3 million to expand broadband Internet access in underserved areas
  • $606 million deposit to Rainy Day Fund
  • available surplus funds will be committed to one-time capital outlays
 
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