House of Delegates passes amendments to 2014-2016 biennial budget

state-capitol2The Virginia House of Delegates passed its amendments to the 2014-2016 biennial budget Thursday, setting aside $99.5 million for the next rainy-day fund deposit, eliminating $42.5 million in debt and $10.2 million in fees proposed by Governor McAuliffe, rejecting Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion while also providing nearly $150 million in funding to give pay raises to teachers, college faculty, state employees and state police. Overall, general fund spending is down $1.1 billion compared to the original biennial budget enacted in 2014.

“The House of Delegates has consistently produced conservative, responsible and, as the Constitution requires, balanced budgets. This year is no different,” said House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford). “Families and businesses across the Commonwealth set priorities and make difficult decisions every day to balance their checkbooks. They expect the same of us in Richmond and I think the House of Delegates has done just that. General fund spending is $1.1 billion lower than it was one year ago. We are setting aside $99.5 million for the next rainy day fund deposit, eliminating debt and fees proposed by Governor McAuliffe and paying cash for capital construction projects at our colleges and universities. At the same time, we are using the resources from the modest revenue increase to put more money into our classrooms, provide hard-working state employees with pay raises and caring for the neediest Virginians by strengthening the health care safety net. I am proud of the good work the House did in passing this responsible budget.”

House Appropriations Committee Chairman S. Chris Jones (R-Suffolk) said, “Throughout last year’s revenue shortfall and continuing into this year, our goal has been to produce a structurally balanced budget that responsibly invests in the core functions of government. Our budget meets both of those goals. We are preparing for the future by taking prudent steps to shore up the rainy day fund and avoid new debt obligations. We are also taking targeted actions to provide our teachers, college faculty, state employees and state police officers with well-deserved pay raises. I thank the members of the committee and its staff for their hard work and look forward to immediately beginning our work on a final conference report.”

The House budget rejects Governor McAuliffe’s attempt to expand Medicaid under Obamacare. Instead, the House budget includes funding to provide targeted health care safety net services to the neediest Virginians.

“The House has made it absolutely clear time and time again that Medicaid expansion is the wrong approach,” said Appropriations Committee Vice-Chairman Steve Landes (R-Augusta). “Our budget rejects Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and instead replaces it with funding to provide targeted health care safety net services to the neediest Virginians. We are providing services to the seriously mentally ill, doubling the operational funding of our free clinics and building on past investments in community behavioral health services.”

The House budget includes funding for the state’s share of a 1.5% teacher pay raise, a 2% college faculty pay raise and additional funding for college enrollment.

“Education is fundamental to the long-term economic success of Virginia,” said House Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights). “This budget recognizes and rewards the teachers who tirelessly work in our classrooms to prepare our young people for careers or college. It also invests in our colleges and faculty members. Combined with our legislative efforts to make college more affordable, we have taken a number of steps this year to make college more accessible for Virginia students.”

House Budget Proposal Background

Conservative Budget

  • Sets aside $99.5 million for rainy-day fund deposit in 2017, which will bring the balance back to ~$400 million
  • Eliminates $42.5 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 capital projects & includes no new debt
  • Eliminates $10.2 million in fees proposed by Governor McAuliffe
    • Restaurant Inspection Fee
    • VDACS Inspection Fee
    • Weights & Measures Fee
    • Underground storage cleanup deductible

K-12 Education

  • State funding for 1.5% teacher pay raise
  • Overall increase of $60 million for K-12 education compared to Governor McAuliffe’s budget proposal
  • Deposits an additional $40 million into teacher retirement fund compared to Governor McAuliffe’s budget proposal, bringing the total deposit to $190 million

Compensation

  • Provides 1.5% 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
  • Total compensation package is $153.5 million

Higher Education

  • $19.8 million for enrollment at colleges and universities
  • 2% faculty salary pay raise (excluding UVA, VT, W&M)
  • $1,000 per student incentive to encourage colleges and universities with low graduation rates to accept transfer students
  • $100 million for capital construction projects at James Madison, Virginia Tech, Longwood, Radford and Virginia Commonwealth University
  • $1 million for cancer research at VCU & $1 million for cancer research at UVA

Healthcare Safety Net

  • $124.5 million for healthcare safety net    Funding to provide targeted services to 29,000 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 two new PACT teams and five new drop-off centers
  • Increases funding for children’s psychiatry and crisis services

Other Items

  • $20 million in funding for the Governor’s Opportunity Fund, but less than the $28 million the Governor requested
  • $1 million for the See Virginia tourism advertising initiative, which is a partnership with broadcasters that leverages $3 for every $1 invested

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