Va. racks up surplus; will community benefit?

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe  Michaele White, Governor’s Office via Flickr
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe
Michaele White, Governor’s Office via Flickr

Northern Virginia Jewish lawmakers reacted favorably to Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s July 13 announcement of a record $553 million budget surplus for the fiscal year that ended June 30.

The extra revenues, coming mostly from income tax collections, will result in a 2 percent pay raise for state workers starting Sept. 1 and the state contributing its share of a 1.5 percent salary increase for teachers, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

By Virginia law, 96 percent of the surplus will refill the state’s rainy day fund and the Virginia Water Quality Fund. McAuliffe said most of the rest would likely go toward transportation projects.

“The governor’s record revenue surplus announcement was great news for the Commonwealth. It is a testament to his vision of a new Virginia economy,” said Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Springfield).

Del. Marcus Simon (D-Falls Church) also praised the surplus, saying that the governor deserves credit for his personal efforts to sell Virginia to business and industry leaders. While he said the surplus means that the era of severe cuts at the state level appear to be over, Simon warned that the economy is still in danger from sequestration and lack of federal spending.

“While the governor is doing great things to try and bring new jobs and new revenue and new growth to the area, it’s sort of like a salmon swimming upstream,” said Simon. “It takes a great deal more effort than it probably would under more normal circumstances.”

Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington Executive Director Ron Halber said he was disappointed that none of the extra money was earmarked for nonprofits.

Said Halber: “Overall I think it’s being used properly and wisely, I just think that a little more creativity should have been used to try and orient some of that money toward the nonprofit sector.”

At the Richmond press conference, McAuliffe sounded an optimistic tone despite more austerity measures that could be coming from Washington.

“Virginia’s significant revenue growth and preliminary year-end revenue surplus are a clear indication that our efforts to grow and diversify our economy are paying off,” said McAuliffe. “While we still have more work to do to shield our economy from sequestration and federal cuts, there is no question that we are headed in the right direction.”

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