2024-07-20 8:31 PM

Delegate Kaye Kory’s Richmond Report

House of Delegates and Senate Members of the Budget Conference Committee reached a short-term agreement — the Budget Conference Report — to pass a stopgap “skinny budget” on Saturday, February 25th, to ensure the 2023 Legislative Session adjourned sine die on its 46th day as mandated by the Virginia Constitution. The approved Budget Conference Report will therefore serve as the so-called “skinny budget.”

 This “skinny budget” amends the following funding allocations from the biennial budget passed in June 2022:

 Provides $115.9 million GF in FY 2023 and $125.8 million GF in FY 2024 for the combined impact of K-12 technical adjustments related to average daily membership (ADM) changes, sales tax revenue forecast changes, and program participation rate updates.

Provides $16.8 million GF in FY 2023 ensuring that no school division receives less funding than was communicated in error last June after accounting for the increased funding from enrollment and sales tax forecast changes.

Appropriates $405.9 million in FY 2024 to the Rainy-Day Fund from the FY 2022 revenue surplus to meet a portion of the Constitutionally required deposit.

Additionally, transfers $498.7 million from the Revenue Reserve Fund to the Revenue Stabilization Fund to meet the remaining portion of the required deposit. This amount was deposited in FY 2022 to the Revenue Reserve Funds as a down payment for the required FY 2024 mandatory deposit.

In total, this provides $904.6 million to the Rainy-Day Fund to fully meet the FY 2024 mandatory deposit. 

Provides $250.0 million GF in FY 2023 to the Virginia Retirement System to address unfunded liabilities. This amount was approved as a contingent appropriation by the 2022 General Assembly. This brings total lump sum deposits to $1.0 billion over the last two years.

Provides an additional $100.0 million GF in FY 2023 to the 2022 Capital Supplement Pool for cost overruns on previously authorized capital projects. The amount was approved as a contingent appropriation by the 2022 General Assembly, bringing the total supplement pool to $450.0 million. 

 I voted to adopt the Budget Conference Report when the bill came before me on the House of Delegates Floor. The Budget Conference Report passed the House of Delegates unanimously (91-Y 0-N).

 The passage of the stopgap “skinny budget” follows confirmation from the Budget Conference Committee that a full budget agreement has yet to be made. The House Appropriations Chair — Delegate Barry Knight — has publicly committed to reaching a finalized budget plan. Because the fiscal year ends on Friday, June 30th, this means that Budget Conferees — Delegates Knight, Austin, Bloxom, Brewer, Torian, and Sickles; and, Senators Howell, Barker, Saslaw, Norment, Lucas, Hanger, Locke, Newman, and Deeds — will need to reach an agreement that a majority of the Budget Conferees will sign on to in time to request the Governor call a Special Session that would grant Members of the General Assembly and the public a minimum of 48 hours to review the final budget agreement before a vote for passage may be held.

 While I supported the Senate Budget and voted to accept the amendments it would make to the House Budget, I believe that we should be investing in our children and our infrastructure (roads, energy, etc.) more than is reflected in that document. Virginia has a revenue surplus right now and I believe that we should be doing more with it than to offer tax cuts to corporations. I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the Budget Conferees were not able to compromise, and instead produced this Conference Report.  

 Since the Governor cannot amend or veto a Conference Report, we do not need to be vigilant about ideological changes he may try to make to our stopgap fiscal measure. Admittedly, the values in each Budget are vastly different and the House Budget has a remarkable amount of “pork” for Republican Delegates. However, I remain hopeful that a budget that invests in our future and demonstrates our values, can be crafted and voted upon before the end of this fiscal year. We must return on Wednesday, April 12th to vote upon the Governor’s amendments and vetoes; perhaps we will have a budget to debate on that date as well.  We have been stymied by partisan politics, and have not served our constituents well by refusing to compromise and thus, govern.  Our Governor has lent his support to this partisan impasse by creating a budget that favors corporate interests over families that need our attention and support NOW.  We must free ourselves from this partisan war and begin to help Virginia grow and prosper — not wallow in culture wars and encourage ugly, divisive shouting matches, “The other side of the aisle doesn’t care about..(fill in your favorite cause).  The other side of the aisle cannot be trusted …….”  This rhetoric only fans the flames of anger and opposition.  No one benefits when we are stuck in our ‘other side’ speeches.  We need politicians who can rise above, build bridges and govern.





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