From the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus:
Conference Committee Finalizes Biennial Budget
RICHMOND, VA – The General Assembly’s conference committee on House Bills 29 and 30 released its compromise budgets on Monday, March 9. The budget includes significant funding increases for Virginia’s public education system, affordable health care, and workers’ rights.
House conferees along with Chair Torian were Delegates Sickles, Carr, Bulova, Tyler, Cox, and Knight, all members of the House Appropriations Committee. Senate conferees were Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee Chair Howell along with Senators Saslaw, Norment, Hanger, Lucas, Barker, and Locke, all members of that committee. The conference-approved versions of HB29 and HB30 will move to the floors of the House of Delegates and state Senate for a final vote on Thursday, March 12.
House Appropriations Chair Luke Torian issued the following statement: “We are proud to report this budget. I am pleased that my colleagues in the House and Senate were able to reach a compromise that includes key priorities like tuition moderation.
Our budget includes significant investments in education, affordable health care, and workers’ rights. We are increasing equitable access to higher education through a historic funding package. We are addressing health care equity and affordability by establishing a State Health Benefit Exchange to lower insurance costs and raising Medicaid provider reimbursement rates to preserve access to critical services. For too long Virginia has touted our status as a top state to do business while neglecting the rights and opportunities of those working in the Commonwealth; this session has shown historic progress for labor rights and workplace equity which is reflected in our budget.
This budget is the most progressive in Virginia’s history. It will guard Virginia’s AAA bond rating and shore up our reserves while advancing equity of opportunity across the Commonwealth and helping rather than hindering every Virginian’s ability to thrive.”
Senate Finance and Appropriations Chair Janet Howell issued the following statement: “This budget prioritizes the people of Virginia and preserves structural balance to protect Virginia’s AAA bond rating.
The conference report makes investments in health care by increasing provider rates and granting access to dental coverage for low-income Virginians. It also significantly expands funding for early childhood programs, increases affordable and supportive housing programs, and gives employee groups, including teachers, well-deserved raises. This budget also brings combined reserves to over $2 billion by the end of FY 2022.
The Governor’s budget was an excellent starting point and the House and Senate collaborated to further address the priorities of all Virginians.”
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Delegate Luke Torian represents House District 52 in the Virginia House of Delegates, serving Dale City, Woodbridge, and the towns of Dumfries and Occoquan. He has held office since 2009 and serves as Chair of the House Appropriations Committee. He is also a member of the House Rules and General Laws committees.
First elected in 1991, Senator Janet Howell is the longest serving female legislator in Virginia history. She is also the first woman to chair the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee. The 32nd Senate District, which she represents, includes parts of Fairfax and Arlington Counties.