Statement of House Appropriations Chairman S. Chris Jones on Governor Northam’s $1.6 billion spending package

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Virginia House of Delegates Appropriations Committee Chairman S. Chris Jones released the following statement Friday on the $1.6 billion in multi-year spending proposed by Governor Ralph Northam. 

“Every year governors are eager to roll out their proposed spending priorities ahead of the General Assembly session, but the proposals we’ve seen from Governor Northam so far this year are aggressive to say the least. While my colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee and I are eager to work with the governor on areas of agreement, I am wary of the long-term and recurring nature of the commitments he is proposing.

“All told, the governor has proposed over $1.6 billion in long-term, recurring spending — including millions in spending after his term is over. In fact, the governor is proposing more new spending in the second year of the budget than was included in the entire two-year budget originally passed this year. It’s highly unusual to see this level of spending proposed in the middle of the two-year cycle. While we must always be looking toward the future, we cannot make promises in perpetuity.

“The need for caution is especially true given the status of our bond rating and that many economists foresee an economic slowdown in the not-too-distant future. Just six months ago, the rating agencies applauded our fiscally-responsible approach to budgeting. We must continue to prioritize fiscal steps that shore up our bond rating while focusing on one-time spending and capital projects.

“Unfortunately, it appears much of the proposed spending is predicated on allowing over 600,000 middle-class taxpayers to pay higher taxes. Before we can contemplate new spending, the General Assembly will have to resolve the governor’s willingness to allow by inaction a tax increase and the elimination of key deductions on mortgage interest and property taxes. 

“As always, the House Appropriations Committee looks forward to working with the governor, his administration, and our colleagues in the Senate to craft a responsible, balanced budget that invests in Virginia’s future while safeguarding taxpayers, protecting our AAA bond rating, and preserving structural balance.” 

Summary of Spending Announced by Governor Northam

AreaCommitted this CycleFuture Commitment “Envisioned”Total Spending
Broadband Access$50m$200m$250m
School Counselors$36m$72m$108m
Water Quality$140m$633m$773m
K-12 Education$268.7mOngoing TBD$268m
Refundable EITC$250mOngoing TBD$250m
Total Spending:$1.649 billion

Governor Northam Announces Major Investment to Accelerate Virginia’s Progress Towards Universal Broadband Access (12/14/18) — “Governor Northam envisions these commitments as the first installments of a multi-year investment totaling $250 million over the coming years…”

Governor Northam Announces Budget Proposals to Add School Counselors and Improve School Safety (12/13/18) — “The $36 million proposal would be the first installment of a three-year, phased strategy to hire enough school counselors…”

Governor Northam Proposes Major Investments to Protect Virginia’s Water Quality and Accelerate Chesapeake Bay Cleanup (12/12/18) — “Governor Northam envisions these commitments as the first installments of a multi-year investment. When added to other currently appropriated and proposed funds for fiscal years 2019 and 2020, Governor Northam’s proposal would total $492 million through FY 2022, and $773 million through 2024…”

Governor Northam Announces Budget Proposals to Invest $268.7 Million in New Money for K-12 Education (12/11/18) — “Governor Northam today announced his proposed budget will feature $268.7 million in new money for investments in Virginia’s K-12 education system.”

Northam says he wants to use $250M from federal tax cuts on refunds for low-income families (RTD, 8/10/18) — “Gov. Ralph Northam wants to take roughly $250 million in extra state revenue caused by federal tax cuts and redirect it to low-income families through tax refunds.”