Virginia’s Northam Seeks Greater COVID-19 Executive Authority in Proposed Budget Amendments

by Tyler Arnold


Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam proposed 18 amendments to the budget legislation passed by the General Assembly, which includes giving the executive branch more authority to address issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I also propose three language amendments to ensure our ability to continue responding to needs related to the COVID pandemic by giving agencies the flexibility to respond and the authority to address the opportunities presented by the federal funding such as the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), until we can address the matter fully at a special session,” Northam said in a letter to the House of Delegates.

One amendment to the budget would grant the director of the Department of Planning and Budget the authority to direct the additional Medicaid revenue from the recent federal stimulus plan to current services. Another would grant the superintendent of public instruction the authority to issue temporary flexibility or waivers for deadlines and requirements that cannot be met because of the COVID-19 state of emergency and school closures.

Another education-related amendment would give the executive branch more flexibility on the $33.2 million of federal funds dedicated to school age child care. The amendment would allow the funding to be used more broadly for child care services.

Other amendments proposed by the governor include an extension of the corporate income tax reporting date from June 1, 2021 to July 1, 2021 and $250,000 for a review of the Virginia Parole Board and the Office of the State Inspector General report, which accused the board of violating laws and policies.

The budget also includes a 5% pay raise for teachers. It allocates about a half of a billion dollars in one-time funding for public schools to address formulaic losses caused by the enrollment decrease during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other initiatives in the budget include higher education funding to offset the cost of tuition increases, COVID-19 vaccination funding and money to implement criminal justice reform changes passed by the General Assembly.

The language also reflects legislation signed into law to allow business tax deductibility on up to $100,000 worth of expenses paid through the Paycheck Protection Loans provided by the federal government.

Northam’s amendments will be sent to the House of Delegates and then the Senate for consideration.

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Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and West Virginia for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.











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