Emphasize the Importance of Passage During Tomorrow's Budget Session ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~RICHMOND, VA - Ahead of tomorrow's crucial vote on the Commonwealth's Fiscal Year 2012-14 budget, House Republicans emphasized the importance of quickly passing Virginia's biennial budget. House and Senate Budget conferees agreed to the conference report on the $85 billion budget before the Easter Holiday and localities, agencies and schools across the Commonwealth are waiting for final passage before creating their respective budgets for the upcoming fiscal year. This afternoon, Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates William J. Howell (R - Stafford) issued the following statement urging passage of Virginia's financial blueprint for the coming biennium:
"Under the leadership of Chairman Putney and Chairman Stosch, the House and Senate budget conferees produced a structurally balanced budget that strategically targets economic development priorities, funds the core functions of government and does not raise taxes," said Speaker Howell. "While the budgetary process advanced in an unconventional manner this year, tomorrow we have the opportunity to bring the budget process to an end with the passage of the conference reports for HB 1300 and HB 1301."
The conference report includes additional funding to support higher education, to preserve the health care safety net, and to help spur job creation- all without raising taxes. Key investments include $110 million block grant for K-12 education, $122 million to moderate tuition costs in Virginia's public colleges and universities, $44.7 million for health and safety services, funding for 305 new Medicaid waiver slots and various economic incentives targeted to create jobs around the Commonwealth.
"The budget conferees worked tirelessly to craft a fiscally prudent conference report in a timely manner," said Delegate Kirk Cox. "With many critical deadlines looming for state agencies and local governments, a vote against the budget at this time is a vote to put funding for our teachers, local governments, and roads at risk."
Virginia's localities must enact a budget for local school divisions by mid-May for the upcoming school year. Localities also tailor their spending proposals on the funding levels set in the biennial budget. Schools and localities run the risk of inaccurately estimating and budgeting for the upcoming year if a budget is not in place as soon as possible. Critical transportation initiatives will also suffer absent budget passage this week - last week Virginia's Department of Transportation announced that 473 construction and maintenance projects from Fairfax to Abingdon would be shut down should a budget fail to pass. "Rejecting the conference report at this late juncture would require the House and Senate go back to the drawing board and start the budget process over from scratch. Given the time and effort required to craft and negotiate a budget, if the budget fails tomorrow we couldn't hope to have a budget ready again for weeks," said Howell. "This is a good budget and a good compromise. We hope that Senate Democrats recognize that schools, localities and agencies across the Commonwealth cannot afford to wait on us to pass a budget any longer and that they will join with us tomorrow in voting for the budget."