The following is a release from the House Speakers office:
"Quick and responsible action to close a budget shortfall last year and conservative budget amendments passed by Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly in 2015 have led to a $553 million budget surplus. The surplus was announced Monday in Richmond. Most of the surplus will be invested in Virginia’s rainy day fund. The remainder is allocated for investments in other core functions of state government.
"The announcement of a budget surplus is good news for the Commonwealth. It is the result of the Republican-led General Assembly’s responsible, conservative budgeting,” said Virginia House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford). “The General Assembly acted quickly last fall to close a projected budget shortfall, protecting our Triple-A bond rating and putting the Commonwealth back on solid financial footing. We built on that by adopting a series of conservative budget amendments this year that led to this surplus. Thank you to Chairman Jones, Majority Leader Cox, Vice Chairman Landes and the entire House Appropriations Committee for their work on behalf of the House of Delegates."
Speaker Howell continued, "While this news is certainly positive, we must also remain cautious. Virginia’s economy continues to struggle. We reported zero percent growth in the first quarter and recently fell to 12th on CNBC’s list of Top States for Business. Those facts and continued uncertainty mean Virginia must develop a stronger, more focused strategy to create jobs and long-term economic growth. We must also avoid taking on new, long-term obligations like Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. Despite the federal government’s promises, Virginia taxpayers will eventually be left to shoulder the cost of expansion. We are committed to strengthening our health care safety net without expanding government-run entitlement programs."
"The General Assembly’s cautious approach and responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars is the reason for today’s good news,” said House Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights). "As required by our Constitution and the budget, the surplus will be redirected to the rainy day fund and other core functions of government. This also means that the pay raises for our teachers, state police officers, college faculty, sheriff’s deputies and state employees will kick in. However, while we can be proud of this news, we must recognize that our Commonwealth continues to face both short and long-term economic challenges."
House Appropriations Committee Chairman S. Chris Jones (R-Suffolk) joined Governor Terry McAuliffe and Senator Walter Stosch at today’s announcement. Jones said, "Since last year I have worked with Senator Stosch and the Administration to chart a fiscal course that would result in today’s announcement. Our responsible action to close the budget shortfall in 2014, along with the adoption of a fiscally conservative revenue estimate, and limiting any new spending during the 2015 Session are the reasons why we can announce this surplus. These resources will be used to replenish our rainy day fund and begin the next budget cycle on strong footing. While today’s announcement is good news, Virginia’s economic recovery remains uncertain, especially in light of the inaction in Washington to deal responsibly with sequestration and the federal budget."
"Time and time again, the cautious and measured approach of House Republicans to crafting the state budget has resulted in budget surpluses for the Commonwealth,” said House Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman R. Steven Landes (R-Augusta). “This is good news for Virginia. Moving forward, we must remain aware of the economic challenges our Commonwealth faces and stay committed to this conservative approach. While Washington struggles under deficits and an ever-increasing federal debt, Virginia continues to prove there is a better path. That path does not include Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. We can and will continue to strengthen the healthcare safety net without expanding this entitlement program."