Budget conference report now available online

state-capitol2The Virginia General Assembly budget conference report is now available online. In accordance with new rules changes announced last month by Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford), the House will wait 48 hours before taking a final vote. The conference report is available at http://leg2.state.va.us/MoneyWeb.NSF/Bud2015.

On January 30, Speaker Howell announced a series of changes to improve budget transparency, including providing members with a comprehensive list of all (i) non-state agency requests, (ii) new items in the conference report not included in the budget originally passed by either chamber and (iii) items similar to legislation that failed in either chamber. The full memo in which the rules changes were announced is available at https://gallery.mailchimp.com/a8970db37d2569f1a2b65e59d/files/POLICY_MEMO_Speaker_to_Members_on_Legislative_Procedures_1_30_15.pdf

Speaking about the transparency measures Speaker Howell said, “The new transparency rules we adopted this year in the House were based on good recommendations from Delegates Terry Kilgore, Ben Cline, and John O’Bannon. More sunlight on the work of the General Assembly will further empower the constituents we work for to demand the best of their elected leaders. This is a conservative, responsible budget that invests money in core priorities like state police officers and teachers, while eliminating debt and new fees proposed by Governor McAuliffe.”

The House will take up the conference report on Thursday.

Budget Conference Report Highlights

  • 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 shore up state employee retirement plans
  • Pays cash for all college capital projects

 

K-12 Education

  • 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

 

Compensation

  • 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

 

Local Government

  • 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

 

Higher Education

  • 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.

 

Healthcare Safety Net

  • ­­­­$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

 

Other Items

  • $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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