Virginia Society of Plastic Surgeons

Governor Northam's Proposed Budget

The General Assembly and Governor Northam's recently finished work on the state budget in response to the COVID-19 pandemic during this year’s Special Session that ended on October 16, 2020. That work sought to preserve liquidity and pay the state’s bills, stabilize the state’s financial situation, preserve financial options, make targeted investments to help Virginians through the COVID-19 crisis, address criminal justice reform and election security, and restore funding for some of the Governor’s priorities.

The new proposed budget amendments are based on recent economic forecasts and changing circumstances. State revenues are exceeding official forecasts: $1.2 billion in additional revenue is expected in this biennium, confirming Virginia’s solid financial situation and secure bond rating. Governor Northam stated that this budget is intended to navigate the next phase and final months of crisis, rebuild the economy in a post-pandemic world, and continue his progressive agenda.

Below are highlights of the Governor’s proposed amendments as described during his presentation to a joint meeting of the General Assembly’s money committees:

COVID-19 Response and Healthcare

    • $90 million to support statewide COVID-19 vaccination effort
    • Update the Virginia Department of Health and local health district funding formula to make funding more equitable across localities, without reductions to any one health district
    • $2.4 million for doula services for pregnant women to address maternal and neonatal mortality rates and racial disparity
    • $4 million for long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs)

State Financial Reserves, Employees and Security

  • $650 million restored for the reserve fund toward the goal of 8% in reserves by the end of the Governor’s term
  • $100 million to reverse unfunded liabilities in the Virginia Retirement System (VRS), a one-time investment to keep VRS on better footing
  • Bonus for state employees, adjunct professors and state supported positions
  • $16.7 million to support elections officials, update the voter registration system, and invest in election security

Public Education and Workforce Development

  • $500 million for public K-12 schools to help weather temporary funding decreases due to student enrollment drops and other hardships as a result of the pandemic
  • $26.6 million to increase the number of school counselors to 1 per 325 students, to address student mental health
  • Funding for an early childhood education pilot to increase access for 3-year-olds to education and support pay equity for early child educators so that young children enter Kindergarten ready to learn
  • 2% bonus for teachers and instructional support positions
    • If revenues improve, the Governor will seek to convert the bonus into a permanent pay raise of at least 2%
  • $30 million to restore financial aid in public colleges and universities, and increase the Tuition Assistance Grant (TAG) to $4000 per student at private colleges; increase support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities
  • Partially restore funding for the G3 (Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back) initiative that was previously frozen; the initiative helps provide free community college for certain low-income people to enter high-need careers

Housing and Assistance

  • $25 million for the Housing Trust Fund, in addition to $80 million already earmarked
  • $50 million each year to bolster broadband internet access

Criminal Justice System Reform

    • Establish a framework to legalize and tax marijuana for adult use
    • $20 million to support criminal records expungement to be ready once the General Assembly has made a policy decision on how best to expunge these records
    • Funding to add four judges to the Virginia Court of Appeals and support staff

Historical Resources

  • Funding for a new Virginia statue in the U.S. Capitol
  • $11 million for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the City of Richmond’s Monument Avenue
  • $9 million for the historic Lumpkin’s Jail site in Shockoe Bottom for preservation and a slavery heritage site
  • Funding to help return headstones to a historic African-American cemetery in D.C.

Environmental Protection, Sustainability and Resiliency

  • $12 million restored to improve air and water quality and land conservation, including additional Department of Environmental Quality staff for permitting process improvement
  • $1 million for a hardwood forest habitat program to encourage landowners to regenerate hardwood trees and improve watersheds


  • $50 million for the Rail to Roanoke initiative so the state can buy the right-of-way to continue the project, which would establish passenger rail connections in Southwest Virginia and make rail travel easier across Virginia

The Governor’s budget will be introduced in the General Assembly when it convenes for its Regular Session on January 13, 2021. Legislators will offer amendments to the budget before it goes back to the Governor for final action. We will continue to analyze the proposed budget and report back any specific items of interest.