House of Delegates passes conference report to amend 2014-2016 biennial budget
RICHMOND, VA - The Virginia House of Delegates voted Thursday to approve the conference report to amend the 2014-2016 biennial budget, sending the amendments to the desk of Governor Terry McAuliffe for his signature. The amendments call for $1 billion less in general fund spending than the originally adopted two-year budget, eliminate $11.7 million in fees and $33 million in debt proposed by the Governor and reject Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. The House voted on the conference report after a 48-hour public review period ordered by House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) earlier this session.
“While Washington drowns in deficits and debt, weighed down by partisan gridlock, Republicans in Richmond are painting a stark contrast. Not only have we produced a balanced budget as our Constitution requires, but we have done so ahead of schedule and with greater transparency than any time in recent memory,” said Speaker Howell. “By adopting these budget amendments today, the General Assembly is charting a prudent fiscal course for the remainder of this budget cycle and demonstrating how governing is supposed to work. I thank Chairman Jones, Vice-Chairman Landes, Leader Cox and the entire House Appropriations Committee for their leadership and hard work to get us here today.”
Speaking about the budget process, Appropriations Committee Chairman S. Chris Jones (R-Suffolk) said, “Working jointly with our partners in the Senate, the committee took great effort to develop a spending plan that is conservative and cautious while still making significant strategic investments in public education, higher education, healthcare and our state employees. We also took great effort to develop this plan in a manner that should make Virginians proud. We worked together, we worked diligently and we were open and transparent throughout the entire process. This is a good budget that I am proud to see passed.”
“We have an obligation to be careful stewards of taxpayer dollars,” said Appropriations Committee Vice-Chairman R. Steven Landes (R-Augusta). “Like Virginia families, we have to set priorities and make tough decisions, especially when faced with a challenging economic climate. Over the remainder of the budget cycle, we will spend $1 billion less from the general fund. The budget eliminates fees that hurt Virginia families and businesses, eliminates unnecessary debt and sets aside $129.5 million for the state’s rainy day fund. These are smart decisions that will position our balance sheet well heading into the next budget cycle.”
House Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) highlighted investments in higher education saying, “This budget demonstrates our clear commitment to making sure Virginia’s colleges and universities remain the world-class institutions that they are, and to make sure that they are affordable and accessible. We have included an additional $42 million in funding for higher education, including funding to increase the number of in-state tuition slots and to encourage colleges to accept transfer students. We are supporting faculty research and paying cash for capital projects. I am very proud of what this budget accomplishes for higher education."
The conference report also includes funding for a teacher pay raise and funding to support teacher professional development.
“At the beginning of the session, we outlined an agenda to ensure that every child has a chance to succeed in the classroom. A large part of that agenda included efforts to support our teachers, which our budget does,” said Delegate Tag Greason (R-Loudoun). “We are making it possible for localities to give our teachers, who are tireless advocates for our young people, a 1.5% pay raise and increasing funding for professional development. Success in the classroom starts with our teachers.”
Delegate John M. O’Bannon (R-Henrico), speaking about the pay raise for state employees, said, “We have over 100,000 state employees who put their best foot forward every day to serve their fellow citizens. We are providing funding for a 2% across-the-board pay raise and funding to address salary compression among senior employees. This is an effort to recognize and reward our state employees for the good work that they do on behalf of the Commonwealth.”
State troopers were also given a 2% pay raise in the budget. Funding was also provided to roll back overtime cuts.
“The men and women who make up Virginia’s state police force are some of the most courageous public servants in the commonwealth,” said Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter (R-Prince William). “Each and every day they work to keep our highways and communities safe and I am proud to support a budget that gives them a pay raise.”
The conference report does not include Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, Governor Terry McAuliffe’s top priority. Instead, the House of Delegates include a $135 million in funding to strengthen the healthcare safety net.
Speaking about the healthcare safety net package, Delegate Scott Garrett (R-Lynchburg) said, “The House of Delegates has once again overwhelmingly rejected Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. Medicaid is a broken system that costs too much and delivers too little for those it currently serves. It should be reformed, not expanded. Instead of doubling-down on this failed system, this conference report builds on our work to strengthen the healthcare safety net for the truly needy. We are doubling funding for free clinics and making additional investments in community behavioral health services. I am confident these steps will mean more access to care for our citizens in need.”
Documents & Links
Highlights – Budget Conference Agreement
- Spends ~$1 billion less in general funds than originally adopted two-year budget
- Does not raise taxes
- Pre-pays $129.5 million for 2017 rainy-day fund deposit, restoring balance to ~$429 million
- Eliminates $11.7 million in fees proposed by Governor McAuliffe
- Restaurant Inspection Fee
- VDACS Inspection Fee
- Weights & Measures Fee
- Underground storage cleanup deductible
- Saltwater License Fee
- Eliminates $33 million in debt proposed by Governor McAuliffe
- Provides $43 million in funding in order to accelerate funding at 90% of VRS certified rates for the state employee retirement plans.
- Pays cash for all college capital projects
- State funding for 1.5% teacher pay raise, including support staff
- Overall increase of $60 million for K-12 education compared to Governor McAuliffe’s budget proposal
- Deposits an additional $43 million into teacher retirement fund compared to Governor McAuliffe’s budget proposal, bringing the total deposit to $193 million
- Provides 2% across-the-board raise for state police and state employees, including compression for senior classified employees
- $4 million to rollback cuts to state police overtime
- 2% pay raise for state-supported local employees
- 1.5% teacher pay raise, including support staff
- 2% college faculty pay raise
- Total compensation package is $153.5 million
- Restores $30 million in funding cuts adopted by the supplemental budget to address shortfall
- 2% pay raise for state-supported local employees
- Deposits $193 million into teacher retirement fund, saving localities over $30 million in required teacher retirement costs
Healthcare Safety Net
- Includes an additional $42 million for higher education, restoring 94% of cuts adopted by the supplemental budget to address shortfall
- $19.8 million to incentivize enrollment
- $10.1 million for financial aid
- $5 million for research
- 2% faculty pay raise
- $1,000 per student incentive to encourage colleges and universities with low graduation rates to accept transfer students
- $132 million for capital construction projects at James Madison, Virginia Tech, Longwood, Radford, Virginia Commonwealth University and Danville Community College.
- $132.9 million for healthcare safety net
- Funding to provide targeted services to ~22,000 seriously mentally-ill patients, including a prescription drug benefit
- Nearly doubles operational funding for free clinics – total of $6 million in funding
- Funds behavioral health community services including three new PACT teams and six new drop-off centers
- Increases funding for children’s psychiatry and crisis services
- $27 million in funding for the Governor’s Opportunity Fund; earmarks $4 million for Jefferson Lab Ion Collider efforts
- Authorizes bonds to construct two new Veterans Care Centers, one in Northern Virginia and one in Hampton Roads
- $9 million for housing & homelessness
- $8 million deposit into the Housing Trust Fund
- $1 million for rapid rehousing efforts, including $500,000 specifically for veterans
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