What the Virginia budget deal means for you

Anti-abortion protesters rallied against Va. Gov. Ralph Northam. (WTOP/Max Smith)
Anti-abortion protesters rallied against Va. Gov. Ralph Northam. (WTOP/Max Smith) (WTOP/Max Smith)
Supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment were also present inside the Virginia Capitol. (WTOP/Max Smith) (WTOP/Max Smith)
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Anti-abortion protesters rallied against Va. Gov. Ralph Northam. (WTOP/Max Smith)

RICHMOND, Va. — A Virginia budget deal revealed Saturday touches on areas from education and teacher pay to transportation and health care.

The budget was approved on Sunday during the final day of the General Assembly session in Richmond.

Transportation

The report eliminates some language that could have led to significant changes in Northern Virginia.

A House budget amendment that would have required tolling of reverse commuters on Interstate 66 inside the Beltway was deleted from the final agreement after opposition from a number of lawmakers including Del. Danica Roem.

A Senate budget amendment that called for a $2 million study of extending Metro’s Blue Line to Woodbridge was also left out of the final deal.

In what could set up significant changes next year, the budget calls for a study of a sustainable funding stream for transportation infrastructure projects going forward.

Discussions of tolls or new gas taxes for Interstate 81 improvements failed to gain traction in this year’s session.

Online sales tax, ABC stores opening earlier

Virginia expects more than $800,000 for the general fund from earlier openings of more than 200 ABC stores at 10 a.m. Sundays as allowed under a bill set to become law this summer.

The budget also accounts for new collections of online sales taxes, and designates $40 million in existing online sales taxes for Amazon HQ2 incentives.

The budget removes a proposed $75 million in new funding for the state’s transportation infrastructure bank, and $50 million in proposed funding for storm water local assistance funding.

Teacher raises, education funding

The proposed budget provides state matching funding for raises of up to 5 percent for teachers in two phases — 3 percent by July 1 and 2 percent by Sept. 1.

Local school systems would need to provide their own funding to actually provide either or both pay increases.

The conference report also includes a House plan to provide $52 million to state colleges and universities only if they promise to keep tuition and fees flat next year.

It also makes changes to at-risk add on spending targeted at K-12 schools with significant minority and low-income students to raise it to 16 percent in the next budget year.

There’s also money for 3 percent faculty and 5 percent classified salary increase at colleges and universities.

Elections

The budget requires Virginia to move forward with an overhaul of the state’s voter registration system.

Language in the agreement requires progress on the changes by Dec. 1.

The budget also includes additional funding for the 2020 presidential primary and money meant to ensure voters are assigned to the correct districts, including during the next redistricting process in 2021.

Other changes

The budget includes language requiring local governments hire additional prosecutors if their law enforcement officers wear police body cameras.

It also shifts a planned gambling study from the executive branch to the legislative watchdog, and commits $25 million to the Alexandria sewage outfall project.

The agreement strikes $1.4 million for additional state vaccine purchases, delays state electronic health records development for more cost analysis, and notes a $38.9 million loss from the end of a federal health insurer tax.

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