THE BUDGET IS IN!
A special session was called on 9/6/23 to address the budget. The Senate voted unanimously, with one abstention, to pass amendments to the biennial budget. Although it comes months later, the budget was fair and responsible with priorities meeting the needs of Virginians. The Democratic Caucus took a strong stand against the proposed $1 billion tax cuts that would have jeopardized funding for vital public services, most notably our public schools, Instead this budget includes the following (among many other priorities):
- $653 million to support K12 education. This includes $418 million in flexible funding to support the implementation of the Virginia Literacy Act to address learning loss as well as additional operational and infrastructure support; Requires no local match and can be carried forward into 2024-2026 biennium. $152.3 million to address the support cap, increasing the ratio of support positions from 21 to 24 per 1000 students. Includes an additional 2% salary increase for teachers, effective January 1, 2024 (this brings teacher salary raises to 12% over the last two years). Also includes $20 million in safety and security grants.
- Total investment of $189 million in higher education. This includes $75 $10$62.5 million for undergraduate need-based financial aid; an additional $12.5 million to attract and retain low income/Pell students; $14 million for the ODU/EVMS merger.
- $180.8 million to support behavioral health initiatives; $7.6 million for an additional 500 developmental disability waivers.
- $10 million for a new safer communities' initiative which will provide grants to localities and establish a new office of Safer Communities in the Department of Criminal Justice Services; $5 million for Firearm Violence Prevention & Intervention Funds; $2.1 million for Aid to Localities (599 funds).
- $7 million for Fort Monroe Rehabilitation Historic Buildings
- In the Central Capital Planning Pool is funding to replace the plant operations and warehouse at Christopher Newport University
- VCCS workforce initiatives includes funding for Virginia Peninsula Community College and Peake Childhood Development Center
- The Sales Tax Holiday has been reinstated until July 1, 2025, and sets the calendar year 2023 sales tax holiday for October 20-22, 2023.
If there are any questions regarding the budget, please feel free to contact our office at 757-825-5880 or [email protected]. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Newsletters will continue to be posted to keep you informed on happenings in the 23rd District.