Governor Ralph Northam signed Virginia’s new biennial budget, according to a Wednesday press release. The budget is the product of a recent months-long Special Session held by the General Assembly and features key provisions for homeowners, children, and businesses.
“This budget gives us the tools we need to contend with the challenges brought on by the ongoing pandemic,” Northam said in a press release.
The budget provides $100 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) meant to help utility customers facing financial hardship, according to the press release.
“The budget also puts in place a moratorium on utility disconnections, including water and electricity, which will remain in effect until the Governor determines that the economic and public health conditions have improved such that the prohibition does not need to be in place or until at least 60 days after the declared state of emergency ends. The budget includes protections for utility providers dealing with revenue shortfalls and establishes a repayment plan to give customers the opportunity to pay off back debt over a longer period,” the press release states.
The budget also bans evictions through the end of 2020 for failing to pay rent. “The budget prohibits evictions for non-payment of rent through December 31, 2020, which is stronger than current federal protections. Landlords and tenants must cooperate and apply for rental assistance through the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program (RMRP) administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development,” the press release states. “After January 1, 2021, the budget requires landlords and tenants to work together to access rent assistance, including through the RMRP, before proceeding with an eviction.”
The legislation allocates some federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds for provisions including schools and business assistance. $12 million is allocated to the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief program.
$220 million is allocated for COVID-19 preparedness in K-12 schools; $116 million is allocated to public colleges, and $22 million is allocated to private colleges. According to the press release, $65.8 million is provided to improve access to child care and maintain ongoing child care incentives.
The press release states that the budget allocates $100 million for the Rebuild VA economic recovery fund, a new grant program for small businesses and nonprofits.
Northam said in the press release, “I am grateful to our partners in the General Assembly for their work in crafting a revised spending plan that protects the most vulnerable Virginians, stays true to our shared values, and puts the Commonwealth in a strong position to weather this public health crisis.”
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