Virginia’s Budget Hearings

The window of opportunity to speak directly to the General Assembly’s Appropriations and Finance Committees about the new state budget will soon close. That’s because the public hearings on the $85-billion spending blueprint will be held this Thursday and Friday.

Both Democrats and Republicans have praised parts of the budget introduced by Governor Bob McDonnell, such as additional funding for higher ed, economic development, and the Virginia Retirement System.

The Governor believes investing $200-million more in colleges is essential.

“The biggest thing we’re trying to do is make it more accessible and more affordable.  Unfortunately right now, we have only 38 percent of Virginians that actually can get a higher education degree in Virginia, and the tuition’s been doubling every ten years.  It’s not acceptable,” says Gov. McDonnell.

But Democratic Senator Janet Howell says some funding is inadequate:

“I’m really concerned about public education because on the one hand, the Governor says he’s adding $404 million.  But that includes VRS [Virginia Retirement System] payments.  That doesn’t help kids in the classroom,” she says.

Thursday’s (1/5/12) public hearing takes place at 10:00 a.m. at Mountain Empire Community College in Big Stone Gap.  Friday’s (1/6/12)  hearings are at 10:00 a.m. at George Mason University in Fairfax… and at noon at VMI in Lexington, the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, and Christopher Newport University in Newport News.

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