From the Virginia House Democratic Caucus:
Virginia General Assembly Passes Most Progressive Budget in Commonwealth’s History
RICHMOND—The General Assembly passed the FY2021-2022 budget, which makes significant investments today in education, the workforce, and affordable healthcare. At the same time, the budget promotes fiscal responsibility by depositing substantial “rainy day” and reserve funds to support Virginians tomorrow.
The final budget report was released by the General Assembly’s conference committee on Monday after House and Senate members negotiated the best terms to keep the Commonwealth on the path forward. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Delegate Luke Torian led the House conferees, including Democratic Delegates Mark Sickles, Betsy Carr, David Bulova, and Roslyn Tyler.
“The budget passed by the General Assembly this afternoon maintains Virginia’s structural financial balance while delivering on the important legislative promises demanded by voters,” Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn said. “We have made critical progress with investments in education, transportation, health care access, and our neighbors in need, while maintaining Virginia’s well-earned reputation for fiscal responsibility.”
“House Democrats are proud of the hard work of our conferees to ensure a budget that helps move Virginia forward,” House Majority Leader Charniele Herring said. “This budget is about investing in people and making sure our Commonwealth stays strong in years to come.”
“We made history today. This session the Appropriations Committee worked to create a budget that would reflect the values and the needs of all Virginians,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Luke Torian said. “We aimed to raise employee compensation and increase workforce equity and make health care and higher education more accessible for all Virginians.”
Investments in education include providing funds for higher education institutions to freeze FY2021 tuition for in-state undergraduates at the FY2020 level, increasing per pupil K-12 funding above FY2008 levels — even adjusted for inflation — and spending $35 million for student aid and IT upgrades at Virginia’s historically black colleges and universities. Teachers at the K-12 level will also receive two percent pay raises in both FY2021 and FY2022.
The budget improves the healthcare system in Virginia, by raising Medicaid provider reimbursement rates to preserve access to critical services such as the Developmental Disability Waiver program and residential supported living. It will also provide funding to improve maternal health outcomes by extending Medicaid coverage 12 months postpartum.
In the next two years, the Commonwealth will make substantial investments in the workforce, including a two percent bonus for state-supported local employees in the first year of the biennium, then a three percent salary increase in the second year. The budget also provides $5.7 million to account for the impact that raising the minimum wage will have on state agencies and universities.
Fiscal responsibility remains a core value of this budget, as it shores up funding in our reserves to the highest point in the Commonwealth’s history for the inevitable rainy day. These reserves also aim to safeguard our AAA bond rating.
As the administration determines what actions are needed to address the coronavirus pandemic in Virginia in the coming weeks, the legislature will continue to work with Governor Northam and the agencies. Governor Northam will be able to send recommended amendments to the budget before the reconvened session on April 22, 2020, to reflect developments at that time.
Last month, the House Appropriations Committee introduced the House budget bills, HB 29 and HB 30, outlining its proposal for the 2021 and 2022 fiscal years and making amendments to the budget Governor Ralph Northam released in December 2019. The House passed the House proposal on February 20.