Gov. Ralph Northam in a speech to lawmakers Wednesday praised the state’s historic $2.6 billion revenue surplus — promising to direct some of those funds to pandemic recovery, state police salaries and the state’s struggling behavioral health system in his coming budget.
Northam, who will propose a new two-year budget in December before he leaves office in January, credited the COVID-19 vaccine, fiscally conservative decisions at the state level, and the federal government’s financial boost for businesses and families.
“We need to be clear about how this has happened: 2020 was a profoundly difficult year, but Virginia is open for business — and business is good,” Northam said during a joint meeting of the General Assembly’s money committees.
“We accomplished all this during a pandemic that many expected to break our budget — and did exactly that to many other states,” Northam added.
The administration first announced the revenue figures in July, when it confirmed the state had hauled in an additional $3.1 billion compared with the previous fiscal year. That’s a growth of 14.5%, compared with the expected 2.7%.
In an otherwise celebratory speech, Northam highlighted the uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose for Virginia and its economy.
“We don’t know what the future holds. If you’d asked me about the pandemic in June, I would have said we could have a fall that looked almost normal. But now we know that won’t be the case, thanks to the delta variant,” Northam told lawmakers.