McDonnell makes final budget pitch to lawmakers

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Associated Press

Posted on December 16, 2013 at 10:51 AM

Updated Monday, Dec 16 at 7:20 PM

RICHMOND (AP) -- Gov. Bob McDonnell has outlined his spending priorities for a two-year state budget that's nearly $10 billion bigger than the previous one.
 
The Republican governor proposed millions in additional support for mental health, public education, public safety, water quality, prisoner re-entry programs and other initiatives in a speech Monday to the General Assembly's two money committees.
 
Revenue growth has helped push the budget to nearly $96 billion. The previous two-year budget was about $86 million.
 
There are no tax or fee increases, and deposits to the state's so-called "rainy day" fund will bring it to $1 billion by 2016.
 
It's the last budget McDonnell will present to lawmakers before leaving office in January.

The Governor's office released these highlights of the budget:
•    Triples the Rainy Day Fund from beginning of governor’s term; Fund will reach $1 billion by 2016
•    Allocates $183.1 million in additional, new higher education funding; Brings new administration investment in Virginia’s colleges and universities to nearly $600 million
•    Provides $38.3 million in new funding for mental health priorities
•    Leaves unappropriated balance of $50.9 Million in general fund to provide for greater budget flexibility and latitude for General Assembly and incoming McAuliffe Administration; Largest unappropriated balance since 1991
•    Identifies $261 million in targeted savings
•    Provides for another performance bonus payment of up to 3% for state employees before Christmas 2014; Bonus contingent upon satisfactory employee performance and savings generated at end of current Fiscal Year equal to twice cost of bonus
•    Includes $582.6 million in increased funding in biennium for K-12 and Pre-K
•    Dedicates $16.2 million to cover biennial cost of providing foster care and adoption payments. Includes 3% increase in foster care payment rates; Beginning in FY 2016, provides funds to expand foster care and adoption subsidies to age 21 for the most vulnerable youth
•    Makes available $6.5 million to address study requirements that must be met to allow additional dredging at Norfolk Harbor, as well as for the deepening of the Elizabeth River channel
•    Supplies additional $1.5 Million for Port of Virginia Economic and Infrastructure Development Zone Grant Fund to encourage private-sector companies to locate along transportation corridors leading to Port
•    Presents additional $196.7 million to fund debt service on all capital projects previously authorized by General Assembly, as well as debt service on select new projects
•    Fully funds pension reform commitment of phasing-in increases to state and teacher retirement contributions to reduce future unfunded liabilities
•    Provides additional $315.3 million for the general fund share of state and teacher pension benefits representing funding at 80 percent of the full pension contribution rates, as well as funding for the 10-year scheduled payback of deferred employee retirement contributions from fiscal years 2011 and 2012.
•    Dedicates $55.3 million To Support Public Safety Efforts; Includes $22.2 million for Sheriffs, Commonwealth's Attorneys, and Circuit Court Clerk Deputies to fund new hires, reduce overcrowding in jails, fund long overdue pay increases, and support other critical operations; Also $21.3 million in additional funding to assist local law enforcement through the "599" program
•    Directs $11 million to the City of Richmond for the development, creation, and enhancement of the Slavery and Freedom Heritage Site
•    Continues governor’s commitment to improving Virginia’s prisoner re-entry process with $2.8 million in new funding to help prisoners successfully rejoin society; additionally appropriates nearly $450,000 for additional staffing to further streamline and expedite the state’s restoration of rights process
•    Ensures $4 million for oyster restoration efforts; $2 million each year of the biennium. Virginia’s recent efforts to revitalize the state’s historic oyster industry have resulted in 2012 seeing the largest harvest in the Commonwealth since 1987; the oyster industry had an economic impact of $42.6 million last year
•    Dedicates over $31 million from the FY2013 budget surplus to the Water Quality Improvement Fund
•    Provides $7.2 million for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program to provide access to life-saving medications for the treatment of HIV and related illnesses for low-income clients
•    Directs $8 million over the biennium to the Virginia Housing Trust Fund, and $500,000 in additional revenue each year to Virginia’s rapid re-housing program, all designed to continue the administration’s homelessness prevention and reduction efforts. Over the last four years, overall homelessness in Virginia has declined by 16%
 

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