Virginia lawmakers reach compromised deal on state budget

Republican state lawmakers concerned about redistricting money
Virginia's General Assembly will meet for a special session in August to discuss police reform.
Virginia's General Assembly will meet for a special session in August to discuss police reform.(WVIR)
Updated: Oct. 15, 2020 at 3:09 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia Republican lawmakers are crying foul over a deal reached this week on the state’s two-year budget. It all has to do with money for a potential bipartisan redistricting commission and what happens on Election Day.

Sources close to the process tell NBC12, it’s likely the General Assembly will delay transmitting the final budget to Governor Ralph Northam’s office until right before the election.

So why does the election matter now?

It’s an issue because the proposed amendment on the ballot asks about creating a bipartisan redistricting commission, made up of 16 people. Half from the General Assembly, and half average citizens.

“House Democrats went as far as to say they don’t want to see any language that would help amendment one on non-partisan redistricting because they want it to fail,” said Del. Kirk Cox, (R) 66th District.

That commission would need money to do its work of redrawing election districts and that needs to be in this budget lawmakers are currently debating.

“The governor will supposedly in the secret deal send down some language that would fill in the details of how you would do that commission,” said Del. Cox.

State Republicans say the session dragged on for too long and was supposed to be about covering a $2.8 billion funding gap due to the health pandemic.

“We will deal with what happens after the voters decide on election but really our focus has been and communities to be getting a budget done to address the COVID-19, to help those people who have been impacted,” said House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, (D) 41st District.

Overall, the $46 billion general fund budget includes a state-worker bonus to the tune of $1,500. The deal would also restore more than $37 million for the state’s early childhood education programs and about $35 million for schools, including a number considered at-risk in Richmond.

“Our priority in the house really was getting a budget done that could address COVID-19 and police and criminal justice reform and that’s exactly what we’ve been focusing on,” said Speaker Filler-Corn.

After a 48-hour waiting period, the Virginia State Senate will take up the budget at 4 p.m. Friday. The Virginia House of Delegates is set to vote on the budget at 5:30 p.m. Friday. Once sent to the governor, he has seven days to act.

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