Governor McDonnell announces two-year state budget
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell announced a two-year State Budget for the Commonwealth on Monday, one of his final acts as governor. Under Virginia law, the outgoing governor still prepares the budget even though a new governor will assume office in January.
According to WTVR, the new budget does not call for any new taxes or user fees. The only possibility for layoffs rests in the closure of a juvenile detention center in Culpeper.
The budget, which will total $95.9 billion for the biennium, will ensure a rainy day fund for the commonwealth of Virginia reaches $1 billion by 2016.
Under the proposed budget, the governor provided a performance bonus payment of up to 3 percent for state employees before Christmas 2014.
The bonus is contingent upon satisfactory employee performance as well as savings at the end of the fiscal year.
Governor McDonnell also announced a re-commitment of $343 million to improve the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) for state employees.
In a sharp contrast to the 2013 General Assembly session, Governor McDonnell discussed transportation reform very little in his budget – he announced a $6.5 million appropriation to improve Virginia’s Ports in Hampton Roads.
The two-year budget also called for $55.3 million to support public safety efforts, including $22.2 million for Sheriffs, Commonwealth Attorneys, and Circuit Court Clerk Deputies to fund new hires and address potential pay increases.
Governor McDonnell’s budget also increased the foster cay payment rate 3 percent. McDonnell dedicated $16.2 million to cover those payments. Beginning in FY 2016, the McDonnell budget would expand foster care and adoption subsidies to age 21 from the current age of 18.
Last week, McDonnell announced $183 million in additional, new money to fund higher education initiatives, including grants to VCU and UVa.
A total of $582.6 million in increased funding will go toward Pre-K and K-12 education.
Apart from education, McDonnell announced last week $38 million in new revenue to address mental health issues, a hot topic in the aftermath of the Senator Creigh Deeds stabbing.
Governor McDonnell also announced $11 million for a new slave heritage site to be located in Richmond.
The McDonnell budget estimated lottery revenues will grow $38 million over the next two years, that extra revenue is the result of increased ticket sales that budget managers attribute to large Powerball drawings.
McDonnell budget officials told CBS 6 reporter Joe St. George that auditors would be added in the Department of Taxation with the expectation that revenue growth will increase as the result of more audits.
From McDonnell’s previous budget two years ago, Medicaid costs have grown the most.
In his budget, McDonnell does not expand Medicaid, creating a potential controversial issue for Governor Elect Terry McAuliffe who campaigned heavily on expansion.