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McAuliffe and Youngkin differ on how they want to see potential surplus funds dispersed
Virginia’s Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne gave his final briefing to legislators on Wednesday and he predicted a nearly $2 billion surplus for the fiscal year that ends next week. This will be a bonus for Governor Ralph Northam when he crafts his budget proposal for the next two years. Passing the budget will no longer be his responsibility, however. It will be up to the General Assembly and the winner of November’s gubernatorial election to pass and execute Virginia’s next biennial budget.
Virginia’s gubernatorial candidates differ in how they want to see the extra money be dispersed. “As Glenn said in March, Virginia families deserve a tax refund from this surplus,” said Macaulay Porter, a spokesperson for the Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin. “Investing in our kids and our schools, public safety, and infrastructure is the right thing to do.”
Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe’s response was simple — education. “I have talked about this for a long time, we have always tried to do it on the cheap, we are 50 out of 50 states on average teacher pay compared to the average pay of our residents,” he said. “We need to invest in education. I think it is the single biggest thing we can do. If we do that, we build the best workforce in the country — businesses from all over the globe will come into Virginia.”
In addition to a new governor, all 100 House of Delegates seats will be up this November. The Democrats flipped 21 seats during Trump’s presidency and currently hold a 10 seat majority in the House. Republicans are hoping that a Democrat in the White House will help them drive turnout up and down the ticket so they can flip some of those seats.
Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn’s office did not provide comment for this article. The Republican House Leader Todd Gilbert’s office said their caucus is still discussing legislative priorities for the surplus funds. “We’re still discussing specific legislation, but there’s no doubt that our proposals will be focused on helping families and small businesses recover from virtual education and unscientific lockdowns,” said Garren Shipley, a spokesperson for Gilbert.
Nearly half of the surplus funds are constitutionally required to be added to Virginia’s reserve fund for a rainy day. The process for determining the exact percentage of the surplus sent to the reserve is spelled out in Article X, Section 8 of the Virginia Constitution. According to Anne Oman, the staff director for the Appropriations Committee, if the surplus is finalized at $2 billion, that would result in $881 million going to the reserve fund. Northam will announce the finalized numbers in August.
This surplus is coming on the heels of Virginia receiving $4.3 billion of federal funds through the American Rescue Plan. This massive infusion of cash coming from the federal government is intended to be used as a COVID-19 stimulus package.
Governor Northam has called the General Assembly to convene on Aug. 2 so lawmakers can choose how to spend the money. According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Northam’s administration has asked the lawmakers for a legislation wish-list.
This infusion provides a cushion for lawmakers and the governor in 2022, whoever that may end up being.
Democrats could finally deliver on their promises to significantly increase school funding and provide salary increases for teachers, a feat they have been talking about since McAuliffe’s first administration but not been able to achieve. If the Republicans win, they could potentially provide a tax refund to Virginians and increase the funding to police officers and firefighters.
Either way, a lot will be on the line on Nov. 2 — much more than $2 billion.
Statewide Democratic ticket campaigns together for first time
The Democratic statewide ticket was all together Wednesday for the first time since earning the nomination. Gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, lieutenant governor candidate Hala Ayala, and attorney general candidate Mark Herring toured the William H. Talley III Center for Workforce Development at John Tyler Community College in Chester.
While speaking in front of the new workforce training center, McAuliffe said his administration put $32 million into the budget during his first term as governor to fund its construction, calling it a beautiful new facility. “Come down here for four weeks and get you a trucker’s license and walk out of here making $65,000 a year,” McAuliffe said in an interview. “It’s about jobs and building the economy of the 21st century.”
McAuliffe continued to talk about businesses wanting to come to Virginia and how he believes that he and his Republican opponent differ in ways that might attract or turn away new companies. "There is a difference," McAuliffe said. "You think of Glenn Youngkin, the most anti-gay, anti-woman candidate in Virginia history. Businesses do not want to come to a state that discriminates."
Youngkin’s campaign said that McAuliffe is recycling old attack lines. “Poor Terry shouldn’t be so desperate, it’s only June,” said Matt Wolking, Youngkin’s communications director. “It’s kind of sad he’s reduced to recycling these tired, old, buffoonish attacks year after year, decade after decade. New ideas and fresh thinking may not be Terry McAuliffe’s strong suit, but lying certainly is.”
McAuliffe praises Biden’s plan to tackle gun violence
The following statement came from McAuliffe after Biden announced a new plan to combat the spike in gun violence across the country.
“I am calling on Glenn Youngkin today to join me in supporting President Biden’s aggressive new efforts to address rising crime rates across the nation and to support increased funding for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to take dangerous guns off our streets. This increased funding will allow the agency to dramatically ramp up inspections and enforcement to include revoking licenses of rogue gun dealers who violate the law.
“I applaud President Biden’s new efforts today announcing a comprehensive strategy encouraging localities to utilize American Rescue Plan funds -- which my opponent opposes -- to reduce violent crime and support our local law enforcement efforts. My number one priority as governor will be to keep Virginians safe and I have a bold plan to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of those who would do harm to others.
“Glenn Youngkin wants to make it easier for dangerous criminals to get guns. Virginians know the pain of gun violence all too well, and they need a governor who will support aggressive measures to address the rising gun crime rates. Glenn needs to speak up and say if he supports the measures announced today.”
Gov. Northam calls for Aug. 2 special session to fill judicial vacancies, allocate billions in federal funding - Wavy
The Virginia General Assembly will meet in person for the first time in over a year on Aug. 2 for a special session where lawmakers will appoint judges to fill vacancies and figure out how to allocate more than $4.3 billion in federal coronavirus relief aid.
The state legislature was expected to be called back into session in either late July or early August to fill certain judicial vacancies, address the state budget and decide on how to spend billons in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act.
Mail Ballots After Election Day Tighten Margins - VPAP
Under a new Virginia law, mail ballots received by the Friday after Election Day can be counted if they are postmarked on or before the election. This change means that it's possible that the results could change in an election where the Tuesday night results are close and enough ballots are processed by the Friday deadline.
It hasn't happened yet, but here are the closest races so far since the law went into effect last year.
Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax defamation suit dismissal upheld by federal appeals court - Richmond Times-Dispatch
by Frank Green
The Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld the dismissal of the defamation case filed by Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax against CBS.
Fairfax filed the defamation complaint in 2019 against CBS Corp. and CBS Broadcasting, alleging the network published false statements by two women who have accused him of sexual assault.
Former reporter running for House seat - Chesterfield Observer
by Jim McConnell
Chesterfield activist Caitlin Coakley is challenging 23-year incumbent Del. Lee Ware for the 65th District seat in the House of Delegates.
Coakley, a former newspaper reporter turned political advocate, is running on a platform that includes support for working families and small business, environmental justice and government accountability and transparency.
Majority of Republicans thinks critical race theory negatively affects society: poll - The Hill
BY DOMINICK MASTRANGELO
A majority of Republicans thinks implementing critical race theory in school curriculums across the country is a bad idea and hurts society, according to a new poll.
The Politico-Morning Consult poll published Wednesday found 54 percent of respondents who identified as Republicans said that they think critical race theory, an area of academia focused on the intersection of race and law, negatively affects society, compared to 13 percent of Democrats who agree.
Loudoun Co. School Board halts comment period on transgender policy following raucous crowd - WTOP
The Loudoun County School Board in Virginia abruptly cut off its public comment period Tuesday night, when a crowd commenting on a proposed policy that would expand transgender student rights became unruly.
The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said one person was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Another person has been cited for trespassing.