FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Reworked biennial budget funds criminal justice reform; education and health care priorities
RICHMOND, VA – On Tuesday the Virginia House of Delegates passed House Bill 5005 by a vote of 58-40. House Appropriations Chair Luke Torian issued the following statement: Last March this body passed a historic budget, funding bold investments in affordable health care, access to higher education, workers’ rights, and many new initiatives to advance equity across Virginia. Since then, the people of this Commonwealth and country have endured the greatest public health crisis in 100 years, accompanied by a level of economic decline unseen since the Great Depression, amplifying every preexisting disparity. Virginia has been resilient but not immune.
We were called into this Special Session with the mandate to close a $2.8 billion revenue shortfall while tackling the economic and public health demands of the pandemic, as well as to make overdue reforms to Virginia’s criminal justice system. The House Appropriations Committee took a holistic approach to reworking the budget with the aim of identifying savings and adjustments that could protect some of the progress in our original budget, while meeting the demands of the current moment. The budget passed today meets our goals for Virginia, protecting our public schools, supporting our health care system, and directing $28 million to fund new criminal justice reform measures.
While many hard decisions had to be made in reworking the biennial budget, all these decisions are still temporary and short-term, triggered by the COVID-19 recession. January will present another opportunity to reassess the economic climate and make further strides toward achieving our priorities.
Delegate Luke Torian represents House District 52 in the Virginia House of Delegates, serving Dale City, Woodbridge, and the towns of Dumfries and Occoquan. He has held office since 2009 and serves as Chair of the House Appropriations Committee. He is also a member of the House Rules and General Laws committees.