As in past years, VACo worked with members of the General Assembly to introduce a package of budget amendments that address top county priorities. Budget amendments were required to be submitted by Friday, January 14; Senate member amendments were made available on Wednesday, January 19, and House member amendments were made available on Thursday, January 20. The Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee heard presentations from Senators who do not serve on the committee on the afternoon of January 20, and the House Appropriations Committee will likely hold a similar hearing in the coming days. In addition to amendments proposed by members, a set of amendments from Governor Youngkin is expected to be released on Friday, January 21. The “money committees” will deliberate on their budget proposals in advance of releasing their respective budgets on Sunday, February 20.
VACo extends its appreciation to the patrons of its budget amendments for their efforts to ensure that county priorities are part of the budget process. A list of VACo’s requested amendments, many of which are joint efforts with the Virginia Municipal League, Virginia First Cities, and other partner organizations, is provided below.
As the money committee chairs announced this week, large numbers of budget requests were submitted, including amendments that VACo supports. VACo will be highlighting several of these amendments in a future edition of Capitol Contact.
VACo Budget Amendments
Instructional aides: Item 137 #17h (Plum)/Item 137 #12s (McClellan) provide $160.2 million General Funds (GF) in FY 2023 and $167.4 million GF in FY 2024 for the state’s share of funding for instructional aides based on the ratio of total kindergarten through grade seven instructional aides to total kindergarten through grade seven teachers. Currently, instructional aides are only funded for kindergarten and special education. This amendment is intended to provide additional state support for positions that are currently funded only with local dollars.
Flexibility in teacher compensation increase: Item 137 #10h (Watts), Item 137 #2s (Marsden), and Item 137 #8s (Ebbin) remove the requirement in the introduced budget for school divisions to provide at least an average 2.5 percent salary increase in each year of the biennium in order to access the state share of the 5 percent compensation supplement that is proposed for each year of the biennium. With the removal of this language, school divisions could provide the local share of up to a 5 percent salary increase in each year of the biennium without having to meet a minimum threshold to access the state share.
Recordation tax distribution to localities: Item 266 #1h (Durant) eliminates budget language that directs $20 million each year in recordation tax revenue to the Hampton Roads Regional Transit Fund and instead provides $20 million in general fund appropriations each year for deposit to the Hampton Roads Regional Transit Fund. This amendment would reverse the 2020 General Assembly’s action to dedicate $20 million in state recordation tax revenue (which would otherwise have been distributed to localities outside of Northern Virginia) to Hampton Roads Transit, and would replace this distribution with an appropriation of General Fund dollars. This amendment is meant to coincide with HB 978 and SB 363/SB 512.
Support for local Children’s Services Act programs: Item 284 #1h (Plum), Item 284 #2h (Plum)/Item 284 #1s (Hanger) and Item 285 #2s (Hanger) provide funding for two proposals from a 2021 report on the implementation of legislation directing the Office of Children’s Services to provide additional oversight of local Children’s Services Act (CSA) programs. The funding would support four regional consultants at the Office of Children’s Service to provide additional assistance to local CSA programs, as well as additional administrative funds to ensure that each local CSA program receives at least $50,000 per year in administrative funding, including local matching dollars.
Deputy sheriffs’ staffing: State Code requires the Compensation Board to fund one law-enforcement deputy for each 1,500 people in a jurisdiction in which the sheriff bears primary law enforcement responsibilities. This staffing ratio has not been fully funded since FY 2008. Item 72 #2h (Wyatt) and Item 72 #1s (Boysko) would provide $11.5 million GF in FY 2023 and $14.4 million GF in FY 2024 to allocate 259 additional deputy positions in FY 2023 and 16 more positions in FY 2024, for a total of 275 positions over the biennium.
Aid to localities with police departments (“HB 599”): Item 408 #2h (Brewer), Item 408 #1s (Edwards), and Item 408 #2s (Lucas) provide $38.4 million in FY 2022 in HB 599 funding to reflect the general fund revenue growth rate of 14.4 percent in FY 2021 and 4.9 percent in FY 2022, in accordance with statute. Item 408 #3s (Reeves) would provide $50.5 million GF in FY 2022, $12 million which is to be allocated to local police departments to assist with pay compression, recruitment, and retention of officers. Item 410 #2h (Brewer), Item 410 #1s (Reeves), Item 410 #2s (Edwards), Item 410 #3s (Lucas), and Item 420 #4s (Newman) all provide $108.8 million over the biennium to reflect GF revenue growth in the previous biennium, as well as the projected GF growth of 4.8 percent in FY 2023 and 4.2 percent in FY 2024.
Reimbursement for general registrar and electoral board member compensation: Item 90 #1h (Sickles) and Item 90 #1s (Deeds) provide $2.7 million GF each year in additional funding to fully reimburse localities for general registrars’ and electoral board members’ salaries.
Clarification of public agencies’ ability to offer compensatory time in lieu of paid overtime: Item 4-14 #1h (Byron) and Item 4-14 #1s (Stuart) incorporate language from the caboose into the biennium budget that clarifies that public agencies can continue to offer compensatory time in lieu of wages for overtime pay; this language would expire when a permanent statutory clarification took effect.
VACo Contact: VACo Legislative Team