Where’s the state budget? Virginia governor calls special session

Published 1:31 am Thursday, August 31, 2023

RICHMOND – We’re now two months beyond when the new fiscal year started for schools and local governments in Virginia. And yet, as of Wednesday, Aug. 30, Virginia still didn’t have a state budget in place, just using the “bare bones” temporary version put in place while negotiations happened. Now the General Assembly is being called back into session by the Virginia governor to fix that problem this month. 

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced on Tuesday, Aug. 29 that he was bringing the Assembly back to pass amendments and complete the budget. That session will start on Wednesday, Sept. 6, with the governor detailing in his statement what he wanted to see happen.  . 

“I am calling Virginia’s lawmakers back to Richmond to reach a resolution on the state budget, Virginians deserve it,” Youngkin said. “To make Virginia more affordable for families and local businesses, we must deliver on our shared goals for more jobs, safer and healthier communities, greater workforce and educational opportunities and much needed tax relief for Virginians. Together, we can get the job done.”  

What happened? 

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Virginia typically has its budget finalized in March. But with Democrats in control of the Senate, and Republicans running both the House of Delegates and the governor’s mansion, it’s not much of a surprise the budget was delayed. But the fact summer is almost over and there’s still no budget? That’s unprecedented for the commonwealth.

“The established process has worked for years, it should have been agreed to six months ago,” said State Sen. Frank Ruff. “The delays have left local government in limbo for no reason.” 

Now the good news is that towns and counties have seen little impact so far. Mostly, revenues coming in from the state are on a two-month delay, so when the county gets money in July, it’s from May receipts. When they received state money in August, it was from June. If there’s no budget in place by the end of September, that’s when the challenge will start, as that’s when state funding for the new fiscal year would start coming in. 

The biggest issue involves school districts, as employees want to know how much they’ll get paid. All versions of the state budget call for a pay increase for school staff, but as of yet, the House and Senate haven’t been able to agree on how much. One version called for a 5% increase and the other included a 7% pay bump. 

Virginia governor says a deal in place?

Now Gov. Youngkin, along with both the House and Senate claim they have a deal in place, heading into this special session. But they haven’t exactly provided details as to what’s included. Ruff said this should have happened months ago. 

“This agreement could have been reached long ago,” Ruff said. “All budgets are a compromise, neither side gets everything they wanted.” 

Del. Tommy Wright also shared what he’s looking for in the compromise bill. 

“We’re still waiting on the final version of the bill to be done, but I favor more tax relief for hardworking Virginians,” Wright said. “We get $1 billion in tax relief for Virginia families and small businesses and needed investments in our K-12 schools and behavioral health.”