Governor Northam Unveils 2022-2023 Biennium Budget
This morning, Governor Northam unveiled the two year budget covering the July 2022 to June 2024 biennium. You can find the proposed budget and track its progress here.
Governor Northam’s budget reflects his outgoing priorities and will be reviewed and amended by the General Assembly like any other bill. Individual legislators may introduce budget amendments until Friday, January 14th. As a member of the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee, I will play a key role in reviewing the budget and proposed amendments, particularly those sections handled by subcommittees on which I serve: Health and Human Resources, K-12 Education, Resources, and Transportation.
I want to hear from you on the proposed budget, so email me at [email protected]
Key elements of the Governor’s budget include:
Pre-K through 12 Funding: The proposed budget includes a record $2.4 billion increase for pre-K through 12 education, including:
Pay Raises for State Employees and Public Safety Officers: The proposed budget includes a 10 percent pay raise for all state employees (5 percent) in each of the next two budget years. The budget also includes more than $223 million in increased funding for State Troopers, correctional officers, deputy sheriffs and regional jail officials.
Outdoor Recreation: The proposed budget includes nearly $245 million for outdoor recreation and Virginia’s natural lands to help significantly expand Virginia’s network of regional trails and Virginia State Parks. This funding will support existing trails and develop new trails, such as the Fall Line, Eastern Shore, and Shenandoah trails. The budget proposal also funds two full-time employees to support the Office of Outdoor Recreation, launched by Governor Northam in 2019 with the goal of coordinating outdoor recreation efforts across multiple state agencies.
Historically Black College and Universities: The proposed budget provides record funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), including $277 million in funding for operating costs and building construction at Virginia’s two public HBCUs – $113 million for Virginia State University (VSU) and $164 million for Norfolk State University (NSU). The budget also allocates an additional $20 million in 2023 and $20 million in 2024 to increase the affordability of VSU and NSU. For Virginia’s private HBCUs – Virginia Union University (VUU) and Hampton University (HU) – the budget increases the Tuition Assistance Grant from $4,000 to $5,000, and creates an HBCU Opportunity Fund to provide scholarships. VUU and HU together will receive $10 million per year.
Gun Violence Prevention: The proposed budget includes $27.4 million to address gun violence in Virginia. The funds will establish the Center for Firearm Violence Intervention and Prevention at the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), which will work across public safety and public health sectors to collect data and publish reports on violence caused by firearms. The information will be shared with state and local agencies, higher education institutions, research institutions, hospitals and other medical care facilities, and community-based organizations. The center will also establish model policies for law-enforcement personnel. I will be carrying legislation with Delegate Marcia Price to establish the center.
New Tuition Assistance for National Guard: The proposed budget includes an additional $1 million a year to support tuition assistance for The Virginia National Guard, the first increase since 2008. Between 400 and 500 members of the Virginia National Guard apply to its Assistance Program each year. The Governor proposes to change the program from an up-front direct award, issued before class begins, to a reimbursement model, issued after a Guard member completes a class. This is considered a best practice and is expected to increase the overall individual tuition assistance Guard members receive. This will also eliminate the requirement of the Department of Military Affairs to recollect funds from those who do not complete eligibility requirements.
Tax Reduction for Working Virginians: Governor Northam proposed four changes to Virginia’s tax policy costing $2.1 billion. Most of this amount is a one-time reduction for the state’s General Fund, and $419 million is an ongoing cost to directly benefit working people:
Chesapeake Bay and Clean Water: The proposed budget provides historic funding for the Chesapeake Bay, clean water infrastructure and conserving the Commonwealth’s natural resources, including nearly $286 million to fully fund the Virginia Natural Resources Commitment Fund to help farmers and landowners to implement clean water and conservation practices, $233.6 million to help Richmond, Lynchburg, and Alexandria fund local fix outdated sewer systems and failing septic systems, an additional $10 million for the Virginia Land Conservation, and $5 million to the Office of Farmland Preservation to support the conservation of forest and farmland, and funding to address the shortage in seedling availability by re-establishing the New Kent Nursery, expanding the Urban and Community Forestry Program, and increasing tree-planting. These efforts will simultaneously support the goals of Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay clean-up plan.
Cultural and Natural Resource Conservation: The proposed budget includes $10 million to conserve historic and cultural sites that are important to Virginia’s Black, Indigenous, and People of Color through the creation of The Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Conservation Fund. Legislation will be introduced in the 2022 session to make this funding permanent, ensuring conservation efforts will continue. The fund will be the first in the Commonwealth dedicated to conserving, rehabilitating, and interpreting the historic landmarks of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. This fund will protect historic schools, churches, cemeteries, burial sites, sacred Tribal sites, and other endangered historic sites in Virginia. The proposed budget also includes $12 million in one-time funding to The Virginia Outdoors Foundation to help Tribal Nations acquire and protect their ancestral and historic land.
Behavioral Health: The proposed budget includes $164 million to give pay raises to direct care staff in our state hospitals and training centers, $263 million for community-based services to individuals with behavioral health needs, and $33 million to expand access to community-based addiction treatment. It also includes $75 million for new behavioral health care standards and to increase the number of mental health counselors in jails and the Department of Correction. It includes an historic $675 million to strengthen community-based services to support Virginians with Developmental Disabilities.
Information Security: The proposed budget includes over $60 million for cybersecurity upgrades to the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) and across state government.
Other Investments: The proposed budget invests $1.7 billion into the Revenue Stabilization Fund, $1 billion in the Virginia Retirement System, and $2.8 billion for capital projects in state government and higher education buildings.
As always, if you have questions or need assistance my office can be reached by emailing [email protected]