Gov. McDonnell offers modest spending hike in budget

Gov. McDonnell offers modest spending hike in budget

Governor McDonnell

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Associated Press

Posted on December 17, 2012 at 1:47 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 17 at 5:00 PM

RICHMOND (AP) -- Gov. Bob McDonnell's cautious revisions to Virginia's two-year budget target modest spending increases for indigent health care, conditional raises for teachers and a $128 million deposit into the state's rainy day reserves.
 
McDonnell tempers forecast revenue over the next year. He's wary of an economic shock that would slam Virginia if Congress doesn't agree on deficit reductions and avoid a year-end "fiscal cliff."
 
His midpoint amendments for year two of the $80 billion budget include $93 million in savings state agency chiefs recommended for their departments.
 
Overall, the budget spends about $211 million more than it cuts. That includes almost $59 million for 2 percent teacher raises, provided legislation passes making it easier to fire incompetent teachers.
 
It also seeks $70 million to hold down state employee health insurance rates.

Key items in the revised 2012-2014 state budget submitted to the General Assembly on Monday by Gov. Bob McDonnell.
 
Key pieces in the governor's revised budget:
 
   -- 150 amendments that include $92.7 million in agency savings and $431.6 million in spending cuts.
 
   -- 204 amendments that increase spending by $735.7 million.
 
   -- Net spending increase of $211.4 million over current total two-year budget of $80 billion.
 
   Top Increases in Spending:
 
   --$114.6 million to fund increase usage of Medicaid and inflation costs, but McDonnell refused an optional expansion of Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act.
 
   --$128.2 million in total deposit to the state's "rainy day" reserve fund, including an optional advance deposit of $50 million over the minimally required amount.
 
   --$58.7 million to fund the state share of a 2 percent raise for teachers, principals, librarians and instructional aides provided lawmakers pass a related bill that makes it easier to fire underperforming teachers.
 
   --$45 million eliminated in "give backs" local governments had been expected to return to state government that are now excused.
 
   --$69.6 million to help hold down increases in state employee health care premiums.
 
   --$15.1 million in additional funding for medical care for state prison inmates.
 
   --$14.3 million for the January 2014 opening of a new state prison in Grayson County.
 
   --$15.1 million to fund merit raises for superior teachers, not tied to passage of the teacher assessment bill.
 
   --$3.7 million to increase tuition assistant grants for undergraduates at Virginia private colleges from $2,800 to $3,100.
 
   --$3.7 million to fill 15 vacant judgeships in jurisdictions with heavy caseloads.
 
   --$2.1 million to increase pay for assistant commonwealth's attorneys by $3,300 a year.
 

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