The majority of Governor Bob McDonnell's budget amendments received support today during the special session of the 2012 General Assembly session. The General Assembly approved 72 percent of his amendments to the state budget. The General Assembly concluded the regular session on March 10, 2012 without a budget. The General Assembly and governor then called a special session and returned to approve the budget on April 18, 2012. Governor McDonnell acted on amendments to the budget within his agreed-upon seven-day deadline from receipt of the budget, submitting his amendments on May 4, 2012.
Speaking about the General Assembly's actions, the governor remarked, "After a lengthy delay in the passage of the FY 2013/2014 budget by the General Assembly, Virginia's localities, school boards and citizens can now be assured that a final bill has passed and funding for teachers, local law enforcement, and other critical needs will be available on July 1st. The new budget honors the priorities I set in the introduced budget and prioritizes spending on the core functions of government, dramatically reduces the unfunded liabilities in the Virginia Retirement System, invests in new economic development initiatives, restores funding to K-12 education, and infuses significant new money into higher education to help reduce tuition increases.
Governor McDonnell continued, "Building on the great jobs creation successes we have achieved with the legislature over the last two years, today we restored $19.5 million in economic development funding to help attract new job-creating companies to Virginia and provide existing businesses with the tools they need to grow. And we made a critically important investment in Virginia's job-creating Port of Hampton Roads, an investment that will make the Commonwealth more competitive with the world, and that will mean more good jobs for our citizens. We also directed $880.9 million in new funding to our K-12 and higher education systems, including fully funding our third grade reading program so that all of our students are reading at the third grade level, and not falling behind, before moving on to fourth grade."
Governor McDonnell concluded, "While we were successful in seeing 72% of our amendments passed today, it is unfortunate that the General Assembly also rejected several important amendments that would have helped with our ongoing effort to control state spending and make state government more efficient and effective. We will continue to look for new ways to reform state government and make it work better for our citizens. In order to ensure that the new biennial spending plan is enacted as expeditiously as possible, while the Constitution provides 30 days for my final action, I intend to take final action on the budget this week. I thank the General Assembly for coming together today to approve, after limited changes, a budget document that makes important and smart investments in the core functions of government most essential to the Commonwealth's economic growth and success in the years ahead."
The governor now must review all the actions taken by the General Assembly and ensure that there is a sufficient unappropriated balance to provide for unforeseen contingencies in the economy in the upcoming year. The governor thanks the members of the General Assembly for their good work this session and wishes them well as they return home to their families after being in continuous session since January 2011.