August 6, 2021
At A Glance: Moving Pieces In The Budget Bill
Virginia’s House of Delegates and Senate are currently considering the budget amendments that Governor Northam recommended last week. The primary focus of these amendments is proposals for how to spend $3.5 billion of Virginia’s total $4.3 billion in flexible American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”) funds to help Virginia recover from the pandemic and recession. The Governor’s proposal was developed in consultation with legislative leadership.
The House of Delegates has passed the Governor’s proposal unchanged. The Senate has passed several amendments to the Governor’s proposal, some of which involve funding decisions and others that are only changes in policy. This means that the two versions will go to “conference,” where a small number of Delegates and Senators will negotiate the final version. Below is a summary of the changes that the Senate is recommending.
- Law enforcement: Bonuses for local law enforcement, using an additional $188.8 million in ARPA flexible funds. Increases the proposed bonuses for state-supported sworn officers of Sheriffs’ Departments and Regional Jails to $5,000, up from the $1,000 in the Governor’s proposed budget, and provides additional $5,000 bonuses in each of the following two years, for total bonuses over the three-year period of $15,000. Also provides the state share of $5,000 bonuses each year for locally-funded sworn officers of Sheriffs’ Departments and Regional Jails for those local governments that provide matching funds. (Amendments #3-8)
- Community-based providers: Extending the rate increase for Medicaid home and community-based mental health providers until July 1, 2022. The cost of this is not stated in the amendment, which notes the enhanced federal match rate for these services as the funding source. (Amendment #57)
- DMV: Policy language requiring the Department of Motor Vehicles to fully reopen all customer service centers for in-person services and accept walk-in customers. (Amendment #19)
- Telework: Policy language requiring the Department of Human Resource Management to survey state agencies on how many employees are teleworking and working in-person. (Amendment #15)
- Overtime: Policy language allowing additional employers to assert exemptions to the Virginia Overtime Wage Act (Amendment #132)
- Elections: Policy language requiring absentee ballots to be counted and reported by precinct, rather than as one “central absentee precinct” for the whole locality. (Amendments #136-142)
- Student athletes: Removing language allowing and regulating student athletes’ ability to earn compensation related to their Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL). The Lieutenant Governor, in his role as President of the Senate, ruled the proposed language as not germane to the topic of the special session.
- Other: Technical clarifications on combined sewer overflow remediation funding (Amendments #20, 21, 22) and clarifications on eviction protection language (Amendments #23, 24, 25).
Budget & Revenue