Representatives of Virginia’s 95 counties gathered at the General Assembly to urge lawmakers to overcome their inertia and pass the state budget. The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn on Saturday. The supervisors say they can’t finalize their local budgets until they know how much revenue is on the way from the state.
A new House budget bill is languishing in the Senate, where two spending bills have already been killed. But Virginia Association of Counties’ Director Jim Campbell said the Assembly’s most important duty is to pass the budget. “So, we’re here today to deliver a message to the Senate of Virginia—Republicans, Democrats, Independents, all—the Senate of Virginia: Do your job,” said Campbell.
The state requires localities to soon approve their budgets and set tax rates. They also must award teacher contracts in May. But Rockingham Supervisor Bill Kyger said their hands are tied.
“As a public educator, I’m very concerned that we’re not going to be able to assure a quality education system by being able to retain teachers if they don’t know whether they’re going to have a contract next year or not—if we can’t submit a contract in a timely fashion,” said Kyger.
The leaders said the state budget impasse could impact local bond ratings—as well as Virginia’s. They added that under the worst scenario, large counties would raise taxes to fund services, but small counties would be broke.
–Anne Marie Morgan