Governor McAuliffe and General Assembly leaders have struck a deal to cut the state budget to cover an unexpected $2.4-billion revenue shortfall.
The agreement taps the state’s Rainy Day Fund, while closing a $346-million gap this fiscal year, and $536-million the next. The Governor stressed the bipartisan nature of the accord—flanked by GOP state lawmakers and the Democratic co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee.
Watchdog groups say Virginia lawmakers are blurring the line between their campaigns and official duties as representatives.
To see what lawmakers send voters with your tax dollars you have to go to the basement of a House office building. Photos are banned. Only black and white copies leave the sparse room. The privilege of elected office is dubbed franked mail – even though lawmakers now use it to buy Facebook, Twitter and Google ads. Lawmakers are alerted each time a reporter, researcher or political opponent asks to see what they’ve sent voters.
"Not surprised—but still disappointing." That statement from one of Virginia’s budget-writing committee leaders is the consensus of the others who heard a dismal financial report from Governor McAuliffe. They nevertheless applaud the Governor for his leadership… and have already begun figuring out ways to address the projected shortfall.
Factoring in an $882-million shortfall for fiscal years 20-15 and 16 and prior revenue gaps, the governor says state leaders have a lot of digging out to do.
The state's economists and fiscal experts are urging lawmakers to pass a budget as soon as possible to help mitigate lower revenues by tapping into the state's rainy day fund.
They informed the House Appropriations Committee that if lawmakers don't act soon, the state has much to lose.
Like April, May's revenue forecast is still lower than projected. At this rate, the House Appropriation Committee’s Robert Vaughn says the projected deficit carried into fiscal year 20-15 is hundreds of millions of dollars.
For weeks, speculation has run rampant at the State Capitol over what authority Governor McAuliffe might have under the Virginia Constitution to keep the state operating if a budget is not passed by the start of the new fiscal year on July 1st.
Attorneys for the nonpartisan Division of Legislative Services were asked to advise state lawmakers about executive options for paying bills or mitigating a government shutdown. At the heart of the issue is the constitutional requirement for separation of powers and co-equal branches.