The Virginia General Assembly has completed its final week of work, even reaching adjournment one day early. I am proud to say that the Virginia House of Delegates addressed a number of legislative goals it went to Richmond to complete.
We voted to approve the conference report to amend the 2014-2016 biennial budget, and in turn sending the amendments to the desk of Governor Terry McAuliffe for his signature. The amendments call for $1 billion less in general fund spending than the originally adopted two-year budget, and it eliminates $11.7 million in fees and $33 million in new debt proposed by the Governor.
The Virginia General Assembly made a number of sound investments this session. The first order of business was to deposit $129.5 Million into the rainy day fund for the 2017 budget. This will bring the balance back to $429 Million.
We made strategic investments to make college more affordable, provided pay raises for teachers, state police officers and state employees, and strengthened the existing healthcare safety net for our neediest citizens.
The budget funds the State’s share of a 1.5% teacher pay raise, and allocates funding for teacher professional development. The budget also shores up the Virginia Retirement System and the Teacher Retirement Fund, reducing unfunded liabilities and saving future taxpayer dollars.
Furthermore, the budget includes an additional $42 million for higher education, restoring 94% of cuts adopted by the supplemental budget to address shortfall. This includes $19.8 million to incentivize enrollment, $10.1 million for financial aid and $5 million for faculty research.
While at the same time the Virginia General Assembly took steps to help promote business and long-term growth. HB 1360 makes it easier for start-up companies to participate in crowdfunding. The Virginia House and Senate also passed HJ 490 to make a constitutional amendment to put Virginia’s right-to-work law in the Constitution and passed legislation to prohibit local governments from establishing job-killing wage floors.
Over the next couple of weeks I will continue to detail the variety of bills that the General Assembly passed during the 2015 session.
Additional information about any legislation in the presented in the commonwealth, can be found at lis.virginia.gov. This website is a great resource to the public, and allows for Citizens to easily track and navigate a legislative session. Please contact my office for any help or tips in using this website.
If you have any concerns, questions, comments or issues that I or my Aide, Eric, can help you with, please contact us at 434-821-5929 or email at Delmfariss@house.virginia.gov.