Statement of Speaker William J. Howell

- On Unanimous Passage of House Budget Amendments by House Appropriations Committee -   RICHMOND, VA - Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) today issued the following statement after the House Appropriations Committee released its amendments to House Bill 1500, the Biennial Budget bill for Fiscal Years 2011-2012.  After being presented, highlighted and discussed at a 1:30 PM committee meeting, the full committee of 14 Republicans and 8 Democrats unanimously passed HB 1500.

"Like families and businesses throughout Virginia, the state's finances are slowly rebounding after recent economic uncertainties.  I commend the leadership of the House Appropriations Committee for their hard work and thoughtful crafting of this year's budget amendments which are a testament to good fiscal management.  HB 1500 includes many sensible provisions that focus clearly and strategically on funding core services of government while keeping the needs of taxpayers foremost in mind.

"Today's House Appropriations Committee-passed budget is a fiscally responsible package.  One of its main highlights that I strongly support is the $114 million deposit into the state Rainy Day Fund, which puts us half way toward the $228 million deposit required in the next biennial budget.  That's a very sound investment during times that still call for fiscal prudence.  I'm also pleased that the House budget amendments roll back over $4 million of previously authorized fees that hit our job-creating hospitality industry especially hard.  Equally of note, the House budget amendments reduce previously authorized debt by nearly $120 million.  Finally, the amendments further advance the interest of long-term structural balance in state finances by immediately beginning the phase-out this year, not in 2013, of the acceleration of the collection of sales tax revenues for certain businesses.  If agreed to by the Senate, it would result in 98% of impacted retailers not having to accelerate their sales tax remittance.

"Overall, the amendments take a number of major steps forward and I believe they again merit unanimous passage when the full House takes up the House's budget amendments on Thursday, February 10."