Governor Bob McDonnell issued the following statement this afternoon following General Assembly passage of the new biennial budget:
I want to thank the members of the House of Delegates and the State Senate who came together, across party lines, to pass the biennial budget today. In the House, there was broad bipartisan support for the document. In the Senate, it took the courage and the statesmanship of one Democratic Senator, Chuck Colgan, to secure this outcome for the good of the citizens of Virginia.
Budgets are generally a tapestry of compromises. No budget contains funding for every program that each legislator supports. Unfortunately, some Senate Democrats spent the session seeking multiple excuses to vote against the budget, going from committee assignments to education and healthcare funding and finally, yesterday and today, to one earmark for one rail project in one district. Meanwhile, thankfully, other leaders worked together to find common ground and get the job done. That work, based on cooperation and negotiation, built a positive and proactive budget that will benefit all Virginians.
This budget makes historic investments in our higher education system so more Virginia students can access and afford our great colleges and universities. It reduces unfunded liabilities in our retirement system by nearly $9 billion by 2031, an historic achievement that ensures our dedicated state employees will receive the retirements they have been counting on. The budget combines accountability and innovation with over half a billion dollars in new funding for our K-12 system. And this budget provides fiscal liquidity and stability for Virginia as we continue to navigate a very uncertain economy. There are no tax increases in this budget. This is a budget that ensures Virginia’s state government will live within its means, like our families and businesses do every day.
Virginia’s economy is growing strong again. Unemployment is at an over three-year low, and the lowest in the Southeast. Agricultural exports are at record levels. More Virginians are working today. As this recovery continues Richmond has an important role to play. We must pass policies that spur private-sector job creation, and ensure that taxation, regulation and litigation remain at a minimum. That is how we will grow this economy. In this effort we are united by factors far bigger than party or region. With today’s vote, we again followed ‘The Virginia Way’. I thank the Republican and Democratic members who worked together to make this happen. And, again, I thank Senator Chuck Colgan for his leadership today. He put policy ahead of politics. I look forward to conducting an expedited comprehensive review of this final document in the weeks ahead, and making amendments as may be necessary.