The Virginia House of Delegates passed amendments to the two-year budget on Thursday that eliminates all spending based on higher taxes proposed by Governor Northam and includes additional investments in public education, school safety, higher education, and economic development. The budget also identifies $120 million in healthcare savings, strengthens taxpayer protections in the Medicaid forecasting process, eliminates unfunded liabilities and saves $729 million in state spending over the next quarter-century.
“With the passage of this budget, the House has once again showed our commitment to being fiscally responsible by balancing the budget without the proposed tax increase,” said House Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights). “I once again want to thank Chairman Chris Jones, Vice Chairman Steve Landes, and the Committee members for their great work.”
We continue to take a systematic approach to improving Virginia’s economy. Our budget provides funding for major economic development projects announced this year, as well as funding for the Tech Talent Pipeline to create 25,000 new computer science degrees over the next decade. The budget also increases funding for the Workforce Credential Grant Program to $12 million per year and increases funding for broadband by $24 million.
“Today on the House Floor we saw a fundamental difference between House Republicans and House Democrats, they want to spend excess revenues in an attempt to increase the size of government, while we believe the money should be returned to the taxpayers,” said S. Chris Jones, House Appropriations Committee Chairman. “This budget was crafted by removing from consideration any revenue based on the federal tax changes and to eliminate any spending based on that revenue. This set the foundation for the Committee’s work, and I am pleased with our final product.”
The budget includes a record investment of nearly $19 million specifically for school safety. This budget doubles the funding for School Security Grant funding to $12 million and increases the award cap to $200,000 per grant application, increases funding for School Resource Officers by $3 million, and provides funding for school safety training at Virginia schools ($1.3 million) among other investments.
“In addition to the investments we are making in our school teachers, I am proud of the investments we are making to ensure our children are safe while in school,” said House Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Steve Landes. “These budget amendments are all a direct result of the House Select Committee on School Safety which I was honored to be a member of. I commend the committee for the hard work and dedication they put in that resulted in the budget we passed today.”
The budget increases higher education funding by $54 million compared to the adopted budget and prioritizes higher education affordability by including $45 million to incentivize colleges and universities to hold tuition flat at 2019 levels. The budget also includes $5.2 million to increase Tuition Assistance Grant funding for students who attend Virginia’s private colleges and universities and provides $27.9 million to increase computer science degree production as part of the Tech Talent Pipeline Initiative.
“This budget shows our focus on making higher education more affordable by encouraging schools not to raise tuitions and offers more opportunities for students to receive grant money,” said Higher Education Subcommittee Chairman Nick Rush (R-Montgomery).