Thursday, February 26, 2015

The General Assembly Passes the State Budget

This afternoon the House and Senate passed House Bill 1400, the compromise version of the FY2015-2016 budget. The conference report includes $193 million for the teacher retirement fund, $52.8 million for the state share of a 1.5% salary increase for funded SOQ instructional and support positions, $200,000 for expedited retakes, $366,000 for professional development for principals and teachers that work with high-needs students, $1 million for the expansion of the Virginia Kingergarten Readiness Program, and $250,000 to support the expansion of Virtual Virginia. It also includes budget language that directs the Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) to conduct a comprehensive review of public employee health programs in the state and provide a detailed report to the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees by October 31, 2015. As part of the review, DHRM will conduct an actuarial review of the impact on the state, local school divisions, and local governments on the impact of including local school division in the state employee health program.
This year’s budget process has gone much smoother than last year and the vote even came ahead of the normal adoption schedule. Moments ago, Governor McAuliffe released the following statement on the General Assembly’s passage of the state budget.
“Virginians should be proud of the manner in which their leaders worked together across branches of government and party lines to pass a balanced budget that invests in a key priorities for a new Virginia economy. I want to thank Chairmen Jones, Stosch and Colgan for their partnership throughout a budget process that has been marked by bipartisan leadership and cooperation.

“At the beginning of this session, I asked the General Assembly to pass a budget that closes our revenue shortfall while enhancing economic development, investing in expanded health care services, protecting education and giving state employees a raise. I am pleased that the budget passed by the House and the Senate honors all of those priorities and I look forward to reviewing in detail in the coming days.”

Now that the budget has passed, the House and Senate are busy finalizing all of the legislation that is currently in conference. It is expected that they will complete their business tomorrow and adjourn Sine Die. We are busy combing through the remaining bills and will provide you a post-session update in the coming days.

Thank you again for all of your support and advocacy efforts over the past two months.