House of Delegates proposes balanced budget that invests in core functions of government

chriswest2017 General Assembly, Budget, Issues

RICHMOND, VA – The Virginia House of Delegates Committee on Appropriations proposed an amended two-year state budget Sunday that includes no tax or fee increases, takes steps to secure the future of state employees, and makes strategic investments in K-12 and higher education. The proposed budget goes beyond Governor McAuliffe’s proposal to include a full pay raise for state employees, additional investments in public education, and ensures oversight and transparency in economic development. Chairman Jones outlined the House’s priorities Sunday afternoon. The House will vote on the proposed budget on Thursday, February 9, 2017.

“The House budget is a conservative, responsible, and structurally-balanced budget. When it comes to budgeting, the House of Delegates has long practiced fiscal responsibility, charting a prudent and cautious course.  Our budget invests in the core functions of government while protecting precious taxpayer resources,” said Appropriations Committee Chairman S. Chris Jones (R-Suffolk).  “The steps we proposed will secure the future of state employees, provide local education leaders with much-needed flexibility, hold down the cost of higher education and strengthen our healthcare safety net. This budget is built off of input and feedback from all members of the House and reflects the priorities of the citizens we represent.”

“The House of Delegates is laying out a fiscally responsible future for Virginia.  The budget proposal released today builds on the House’s longstanding commitment to conservative budgeting,” said House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford). “The investments in education, health care and public safety will improve the lives of our citizens and make Virginia a better place to live, work and raise a family. I want to thank Chairman Jones, Vice-Chairman Landes, and the entire Appropriations Committee for their hard work in preparing this budget.”

The House budget addresses the problems with Virginia’s economic development model. The House instead emphasizes transparency, accountability and oversight by directing funds through GO Virginia.

“Growing Virginia’s economy is our number one priority.  This budget maintains that commitment, but increases accountability and oversight in order to protect taxpayer’s dollars,” said Majority Leader M. Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights). “We are restoring the funds that were cut to GO Virginia. Our steps in this budget will yield long-term positive results for the Commonwealth.”

The budget does not include Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and it restores the Stanley Amendment which requires General Assembly approval before expanding Medicaid. Instead, the House continues to strengthen the health care safety net. The House will invest $28.5 million for substance abuse treatment, to expand eligibility for the GAP program, and create new waiver slots to address the critical waiting list.

“It is now clear that Virginia made the right choice not to expand Medicaid. Instead of expanding a broken and costly government-run system, the House is taking real steps to invest in the healthcare safety net to meet the needs of Virginia’s most vulnerable citizens,” said House Appropriations Committee Vice-Chairman R. Steven Landes (R-Augusta).

In addition to the investments in the state retirement system, the House budget also invests in Virginia’s hard working state employees.

“The budget we unveiled today secures the future of state employees,” said Delegate John O’Bannon (R-Henrico).  “We are proposing a three percent pay raise for state employees, and a 2% pay raise for state-supported local employees. We also set aside funding to implement the recommendations of Speaker Howell’s Commission on State Employee Retirement Security and Pension Reform.  Our state employees are dedicated public servants. This investment will make it easier to attract and retain high quality employees.”

The House calls for new funding for K-12 education, exceeding Governor McAuliffe’s proposal by nearly $15 million.  The House budget also provides added flexibility by restoring over $218 million in lottery proceeds.  These funds are sent back to local school divisions with fewer strings attached than other funding. The House budget also includes $20 million to hold tuition increases.

“It is important to invest in education, because that is also an investment into Virginia’s future,” said Delegate Tag Greason (R-Loudoun). “Our budget proposal ensures that taxpayer dollars are spent in the classroom, not in more bureaucracy, and it allows localities the flexibility to meet the unique needs of their school system.”

“Virginia has the best system of public higher education in the country and great private colleges,” said Delegate Jimmie Massie (R-Henrico). “The House of Delegates has taken specific steps in recent years to address the rising cost of college, increasing funding for financial aid and prioritizing in-state students.  The $20 million investment we are making this biennium will help offset tuition increases, leaving more money in the pockets of hard working Virginia families.”

2016-2018 Amended House Budget Proposal

Key Takeaways
  • The House budget is a conservative, responsible, and structurally-balanced budget; general fund spending has decreased by 5% over 10 years when adjusted for population and inflation
  • Exceeds the Governor’s investment in K-12 education by nearly $15 million while increasing flexibility for local schools and reducing tax burden on local government
  • Invests in higher education to limit tuition increases
  • Makes strategic and targeted investments in economic development while emphasizing accountability and oversight
  • Funds a comprehensive package to combat domestic violence, including additional funding for prevention, treatment and counseling services
  • Builds on previous efforts to strengthen the health care safety net, creating new additional waiver slots
  • Invests in Virginia’s hardworking state employees by providing a 3% pay raise and invests in our State Police by providing a salary increase.
Public Safety
  • Provides $14.6 million in funds to raise the starting salary of Virginia State Police to $43,000. All sworn troopers will receive a $6,793 salary increase.
  • Provides funds to raise the starting salary of the Division of Capitol Police to $42,750. All sworn personnel will receive a $4,355 salary increase
  • $7.3 million is given to provide a compression adjustment for employees in sheriffs’ offices and regional jails.
Flexibility in K-12 Education
  • The House budget proposal exceeds the Governor’s investment in K-12 education by nearly $13 million, but gives localities much needed flexibility by re-establishing the lottery proceeds distribution.
  • Invests $15 billion for direct aid to public education.
  • Re-establishes the lottery proceeds distribution, sending $218.7 million back to localities with almost no strings attached.  This sends 40% of lottery proceeds back to local schools, which was the policy prior to 2010.
  • Establishes the 10-10-10 plan to support smaller school divisions with declining enrollment. That sends an additional $9 million to rural schools.
Making College More Affordable
  • The House budget proposal builds on our continued effort to make college more affordable for Virginia families and includes $20 million more than Governor McAuliffe proposed for higher education funding.
Economic Development
  • The House budget funds strategic and targeted investments in economic development, while promoting increased accountability and oversight in coordination with our legislative priorities.
  • Restores $7.5 million in funds to GO Virginia that was cut by Governor McAuliffe
Combatting Domestic Violence
  • The House budget complements the House’s legislative efforts to prevent and combat domestic violence.
  • Includes $1.5 million to expand domestic violence prevention, treatment and counseling programs and services for women and children.
  • Allows drawdown of $6 million in federal funding match
Stronger Healthcare Safety Net
  • The House budget does not include Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, and restores the Stanley amendment that prohibits the Governor from expanding Medicaid without consent of the General Assembly.
  • The House budget invests $28.5 million to build a stronger healthcare safety net, including funding for substance abuse treatment, and increases eligibility for the GAP program to 100% of FPL, which will cover 3,000 individuals.
  • Creates 100 new DD waiver slots.
Investing in Our State Employees
  • Includes $70.2 million for a 3% pay raise for state employees. The Governor’s budget proposal provided a 1.5% bonus.
  • The budget also sets aside funds to implement the findings and recommendations of Speaker Howell’s Commission on State Employee Retirement Security and Pension Reform.
    • $200,000 for JLARC to complete a total compensation study of all state employees
    • $140,000 for state agencies to incorporate succession planning in their agency strategic plans
    • Establishes $1.5 million in administrative funding for VRS to begin the implementation of a new optional defined contribution retirement plan.