We finally have a budget! Moments ago, the Senate passed a two-year state budget with Medicaid Expansion and significant investment in public education.
Over the past five years, Virginia has passed up nearly $10 billion for healthcare. Going forward, Virginia will recapture federal funds to expand access to healthcare for over 300,000 working Virginians, including nearly 8,800 in the 29th Senate District alone. These are our neighbors that make 138% of the federal poverty line, or approximately $16K a year for an individual with no dependents.
The bipartisan budget deal invests significantly in healthcare and public education. With this new infusion of healthcare dollars, funds in other parts of the budget are freed up for other priorities. When compared to the current budget, the newly passed budget results in an additional $20 million for Prince William County Schools, $2.5 million for Manassas City Schools, and $2.7 million for Manassas Park City Schools.
For some highlights, the budget passed by the Senate:
- Accesses federal funds to provide healthcare access to over 300,000 individuals and increases the provider reimbursement rate to 88% for inpatient and outpatient services to encourage more medical providers to accept Medicaid;
- Ensures that the provider assessment is used only to cover the cost of Medicaid expansion and reinvests over $191 million in general fund savings for behavioral health and developmental services;
- Provides $57.8 million for 1,645 new waivers for those citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities;
- Fully funds K-12 re-benchmarking, provides a three percent pay raise for teachers, and increases funding for early childhood education;
- Includes a two percent across-the-board state employee pay raise and a two percent merit-pay increase, raises the minimum salary for sheriff’s deputies, correctional officers in Department of Corrections & Department of Juvenile Justice to $32,500, and gives targeted pay raises for Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services direct care staff;
- Deposits the FY18 revenue surplus in various reserve funds, bringing our total reserve fund balances to $975 million, or more than 5% of GF revenue, by the end of the biennium, in order to maintain Virginia’s AAA bond rating.
For further information on the budget compromise, please reference this handy comparison from the Commonwealth Institute. It is my privilege to represent our community in the State Senate. I look forward to seeing you in the community again soon.