The Virginia Budget Arrives: What’s In It?

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    According to my friend, Del. Scott Surovell, who’s busy poring through the newly-arrived Virginia budget document {click here for the Budget Conference Report online}, here are a few highlights (using that word loosely).

    *”…public television funding back in the budget but reduced by 10%”

    *”hold harmless payments for school divisions (not Northern VA) who would’ve lost money last year is still in the budget (Item 132, #3c)”

    *”it appears that Direct Aid to Education is up $87M over Gov. McD’s proposal (Item 132 #6c)”

    *”$270k +/- in Budget for additional jail beds needed because of new mandatory minimum penalties passed this year”

    *”$10M +/- for GMU for STEM faculty, $6M+/- for JMU for STEM programs & financial aid” (Item 284 #1c)”

    *”$100M additional dollars to improve Medicaid provider reimbursement rates – that’s progress but we gotta keep improving (Item #197 13c)”

    *”$500K more for Healthy Families Program, $200K for NOVA Family Services & $1.2M for 15 new FTE’s for state parks”

    *”$1M restored for AIDS drug funding – I was lobbied by constituents who had been wait listed for 1st time in VA history”

    *”Fairfax County K-12 Direct Aid up $4.1M over Governor McDonnell’s proposal”

    *”No Gen. Fund to Transportation, K-12 Funding Up, $64M Rainy Day Contribution, Sales Tax Gimmick 80% Removed – Largely what we demanded”

    *”stem cell research ban and Planned Parenthood funding ban language in House Budget amendments not included in final Budget”

    More to come…thanks to Scott Surovell for keeping us updated!

    UPDATE: This worries me a great deal, coming from right wingnut extraordinaire, Del. Greg Habeeb (“The more I familiarize myself with this budget the more proud I am of the Republican House budget conferees. They did a remarkable job.”)

    UPDATE #2: Adam Rhew tweets, “Net increase of $74.9M over the governor’s budget for K-12 education – more than planned but not as much as school divisions wanted.” Also, “The budget doesn’t include money for: a new General Assembly bldg, UVA Rotunda renovation or a new facility for sexually violent predators.”

    UPDATE #3: House Minority Leader Ward Armstrong just endorsed the budget.

    UPDATE #4: The budget passed the House 97-0.

    • When we debated the budget proposed by House Republicans on Feb. 10, Democrats time and again argued that transportation is important, but it is wrong to take from education, public safety, and our already meager services for the poor, the sick, the elderly, and the disabled to build roads. House Republicans ridiculed us at the time, but they listened and they did as we Democrats urged. The final negotiated budget is fully balanced, and it adds more than $100 million into public education, more than $100 million into higher education, and makes major increases to health care services for the poor and to critical community-based services for the disabled.

      I’m especially gratified the the final budget includes language nearly identical to my proposal to repeal the “accelerated sales tax” gimmick that artificially inflates state revenue by forcing small businesses to pay sales taxes they have yet to collect from customers. That will eliminate this burden for 80 percent of businesses throughout Virginia, including the mom-and-pop businesses and restaurants that are part of the vibrant, diverse community I serve in Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax.

      Budgets are moral documents; they express our values as a society, deciding whom we lift up and whom we leave out. No budget is perfect, but this budget strikes the right balance and is consistent with the fiscally responsibly, socially progressive values of the people of Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax.

    • Senate Democrats Stand Up For Virginia’s Families

      Senators Fight to Restore Funding To Education and Health Care in Budget

      RICHMOND – After long hours of negotiations and an extension of the legislative session, the General Assembly has passed a balanced FY2012 budget that calls for no new taxes.

      Budget conferees worked late Saturday night to find a compromise between the Democratic-controlled Senate and Republican-controlled House of Delegates’ competing budget bills.   The final budget gave Senate Democrats a victory in their mission to restore funding to the state’s core services.

      “We could have capitulated, but we thought it was worth it to support funding to those areas of the budget that would have the greatest impact on Virginia families and help save thousands of health care and education-related jobs,” Sen. Edd Houck, D-Spotsylvania.

      The Senate budget, passed earlier this month, restored $100.6 million in funding to K-12 education, while the House-budget called for funding cuts. Budget conferees agreed to restore $75.6 million to Virginia’s public school divisions and $16.3 million over the biennium above the introduced budget for higher education.

      Senate Democrats said the education budget compromise will help the school divisions begin to regain some of the ground they lost over the last several years.

      “This budget compromise is more than just a victory for Senate Democrats; it’s a victory for the children of the Commonwealth. The state cut nearly a billion dollars in aid to public schools over the last several years. Although the impact of those cuts will continue to be felt for some time, this budget is a step in the right direction,” said Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Mary Margaret Whipple.

      Budget conferees also agreed to add about $110.3 million to the health and human resources budget. The Senate’s proposed budget added $114.3million to health and human resources, while the House budget called for a $37.7million decrease.

      Under the Health and Human Resources budget, $66.8 million will be added to the general fund for Medicaid provider restorations and appropriates $30 million to the Behavioral Health and Developmental Services Trust Fund.

      “The Senate’s position on HHR was very clear. It is our firm belief that we must be advocates for Virginia’s most vulnerable citizens: children, frail elderly and the disabled.  We also saw this as an opportunity to support Virginia’s small businesses which are largely represented by health care providers. So yes, it is Medicaid restoration, but it’s a restoration of health care jobs,” said Houck.

      Senate and House budget writers also comprised on the House’s plan to unwind the “accelerated sales tax for most retailers and to add funding to the “rainy day” fund payment reserve.

      “This budget helped restore some of the massive cuts that were made to K-12 education and help for our most vulnerable citizens while increasing the fiscal strength of the Commonwealth. We’re championing fiscal responsibility by putting millions into the “rainy day” fund and paying back some of the money that was borrowed from our pension fund,” said Senate Majority Leader Richard “Dick” Saslaw, D-Fairfax.

    • Delegate Patrick Hope Reacts to Budget Conference Agreement

      Hope applauds additional funding for Health and Human Resources.

      Richmond – The Virginia House of Delegates agreed to a budget conference report on a vote of 97-0.  Delegate Patrick A. Hope (D-Arlington) particularly welcomed the portion of the budget that makes significant investments in transitioning individuals from institutions to community-based settings, 375 additional ID/DD waivers, the restoration of cuts to respite hours, and the restoration of cuts to Medicaid health care providers.

      Delegate Patrick A. Hope touted today’s budget agreement saying, “The additional funding increasing services for those with mental disabilities is welcomed and long overdue.  This budget represents an initial down payment toward bringing services to our most vulnerable to acceptable levels.”  Hope continued, “We still have a long way to go and I’m committed to next year building on this investment and finishing the job.”

      Referring to many provisions that budget conferees included at Delegate Hope’s insistence, “Frequently the squeaky wheel gets the grease.  But at the end of the day the conferees concluded that investing in people is fiscally sound policy.”  Hope continued, “I hope this represents a real policy shift in our Commonwealth away from institutional care and more toward home and community-based services.  This kind of policy is what will ultimately be what slows the growth in Medicaid.”

      For a complete copy of the conference report, go to  http://leg2.state.va.us/MoneyW