I was in Richmond earlier this week for the start of Special Session 2020. Governor Northam called members of the General Assembly into this Special Session to make necessary revisions to Virginia’s biennial budget and to reform our criminal justice system. Since convening on Tuesday, the House of Delegates has met virtually to protect against the spread of COVID-19. You can stream all meetings of the House of Delegates and its committees live online.
On Tuesday, the Governor announced a projected $2.7 billion revenue shortfall for the Fiscal Year 2021-2022 biennium. That reforecast was triggered by a shortfall of about $234 million at the end of Fiscal Year 2020. We were proud of the budget we passed last March, which included historic investments in workforce equity, affordable health care, and access to higher education. Unfortunately, this reforecast shows us a significant revenue shortfall due to COVID-19’s impact on Virginia’s economy. As a result, we will take a holistic approach to reworking the budget with the aim of protecting some of that original progress, as well as meeting the demands of the current moment.
My top budget priorities are fair funding for criminal justice reform measures, health care, and K-12 and higher education. Virginia’s students deserve equitable access to broadband internet and digital technology as schools across the Commonwealth move toward online education. Our budget will also account for the housing crisis and making sure every Virginian can vote safely and securely in November. All these decisions are still short-term, triggered by the COVID-19 recession. We’ll return in January with a formal forecast and a more comprehensive understanding of what Virginia needs.
I will keep you updated on our legislative progress. I appreciate your ongoing support and encourage you to contact me if you have questions, comments or concerns about the 2020 Special Session.