View Full Version : Virginia budget surplus grows to $400 million

08-19-2010, 05:04 PM
Published: August 18, 2010
Richmond, Va. --

Sweeping the corners of the state's cash drawer, the McDonnell administration has found an additional $174 million -- pushing to about $400 million the leftover funds possibly available for recession-wracked programs.

Gov. Bob McDonnell yesterday declined comment on the anticipated windfall, which was confirmed by budget officials. He is expected to announce the revised figures tomorrow in a revenue update to the General Assembly money committees.

"I'll see you Thursday," said McDonnell, a Republican, when asked by reporters about the additional funds.

The extra dollars largely are those not spent by government agencies in the budget year that ended June 30. However, some of the additional cash, by law, may have to be rolled forward to specific programs.

Such rules would apply, for example, to financial aid for college students and some clean-air and -water programs.

McDonnell announced this summer that Virginia closed the fiscal cycle with a surplus of about $220 million, of which the largest share -- $82 million -- has been pledged to a one-time bonus for state employees.

Because of the sour economy, government workers have not received a pay raise since November 2007. Thousands have lost their jobs because of spending cuts.

Also, public schools will get a total of $18 million in additional funding; $22 million will go to the Water Quality Fund; and $20 million is guaranteed for the Transportation Trust Fund.

McDonnell took office in January facing a $4.2 billion revenue shortfall. To close that gap, McDonnell and the legislature refused to raise taxes and relied instead on reduced spending, a loan from the public-employee pension system, and federal economic-stimulus money.

Unspent balances are commonplace in Virginia government, even in lean years.

Last year, there was a balance in the general fund -- it's made up of income and sales taxes -- of about $615 million.

About $192 million was rolled over, by statute, to programs such as higher education. The balance reverted to the general fund, which supports basic services, including health care, schools and law enforcement.