Governor Ralph Northam announced budget amendment proposals on Wednesday morning in front of a virtual-joint session of the money committees in both the state Senate and House of Delegates. The amendment proposals are for the current 2020-2022 biennial budget.
Northam’s proposals include making investments to support early childhood, K-12, and higher education; boosting the funding of historically black colleges and universities; increasing access to affordable housing; transforming African American historical and cultural sites; expanding high-speed broadband; several criminal justice system reforms.
The proposals include investing:
- $500 million to prevent reductions to school division funding from COVID-19.
- An additional $25 million in Virginia’s Housing Trust Fund to help prevent evictions.
- An additional $15 million in the Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI) in FY2022.
- $36 million in FY2022 for the G3 Program to get free or low-cost job skills training in high-need fields through Virginia’s community college system.
- $30 million in previously un-allotted investments in tuition assistance at Virginia’s public institutions of higher education.
- $23 million to get more Virginians enrolled in the health care exchange and $2.3 million to fund doula services for expecting Virginia mothers enrolled in Medicaid.
- $12 million for the Department of Environmental Quality.
- $700,000 in the Virginia Parole Board to improve victim services assistance and notification and to hire additional investigators, examiners, and a release planning coordinator.
- $5 million in FY2021 and $20 million in FY2022 to pay for the cost of expungement reforms, including automatic expungement of misdemeanor marijuana convictions.
- The budget also includes investments at the Department of Corrections to implement Virginia’s new expansion of inmate earned sentence credits.
Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw of Fairfax praised the amendments from Northam. “Protecting the health of Virginians and ensuring economic security for all in the Commonwealth are top of mind for everyone,” he said in a statement on Wednesday. “Governor Northam has put forward budget proposals that will keep us healthy, including money for pandemic response and vaccine distribution. $23 million will go toward helping Virginians enroll in the healthcare exchange.”
The House Democrats also applauded Governor Northam for his proposals.
“Budgets are a statement of values, and Governor Northam’s proposal is reflective of many of the priorities of our majority,” said Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Del. Luke Torian (D-Prince William) in a joint statement Monday afternoon. “We applaud the Governor on this thoughtful proposal that balances long term fiscal responsibility while also making needed investments for our Commonwealth’s present and in its future and look forward to working with him as we compose a final budget.”
House Republican leaders did not express the same sentiment, however. “Governor Northam’s budget proposals are extremely disappointing,” said House Republican leader Del. Todd Gilbert. (R-Shenandoah) “Rather than face the very real crisis facing our students, Governor Northam has instead defaulted back to the same old Democratic playbook — throwing money at the same old line items and hoping they solve problems he won’t even acknowledge, instead focusing on his ongoing efforts at political rehabilitation.”
Delegate Kirk Cox, who is currently running for governor gave credit for the funds that Northam plans to spend to the Republicans that held the majority in the General Assembly until 2019. “Governor Northam presented a budget that, like the one passed by the Democratic Majority passed in October, is structurally out of balance and spends more money than Virginia actually receives in revenue,” Cox wrote in a statement on Wednesday afternoon. “The budget relies on the strong fiscal position left by the Republican majority in order to fund the governor’s priorities.”
We will update this post as more responses to the budget amendment proposals become available.
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