Northam calls Aug. 18 General Assembly special session to address state budget

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Gov. Ralph Northam is calling the General Assembly into special session on Aug. 18 to adopt a budget based on the revised revenue forecast.

Northam signaled on Friday that he will also use the special session to address priorities in criminal justice and policing reform.

“I look forward to bringing legislators back in session as we continue to navigate these unprecedented times,” Northam said. “We have a unique opportunity to provide critical support to Virginians, invest strategically in our economic recovery, and make progress on policing and criminal justice reform. Let’s get to work.”

The General Assembly will meet to adopt a final budget, a process that was postponed earlier in the year due to COVID-19. In April, Northam worked with legislators to “unallot,” or freeze, over $2.2 billion in new spending in Virginia’s new biennial budget. This strategy allowed time for the Commonwealth’s fiscal outlook to stabilize and avoided major cuts to important new programs and state services.

Legislators will now consider a number of items previously “unalloted”—including the governor’s historic investments in early childhood education, tuition-free community college, affordable housing, and broadband.

Policing initiatives are expected to include measures aimed at police accountability and oversight, use of force, increased training and education, and officer recruitment, hiring, and decertification.

Northam has directed the Department of Criminal Justice Services, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the Virginia African American Advisory Board, and the Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law to assist the administration in developing policy initiatives.

House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, in a statement, said “the House of Delegates looks forward to taking action to address the impact of COVID-19 on our biennial budget and passing laws that will help the Commonwealth recover from this pandemic.”

“We are committed to working together to support our economy, our schools and Virginians in every corner of the Commonwealth during these unprecedented times,” Filler-Corn said. “I also want to thank the Governor for highlighting the need for criminal justice and police reform. We have heard the pain and frustration of so many that have been plagued by inequities in our system. The House Courts of Justice and Public Safety Committees will be holding joint public hearings over the next three weeks to discuss reforms and receive public input so that our body can swiftly move forward with meaningful legislation in this area.”



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