Virginia Gov. Northam Continues Legacy Tour, Highlights Proposed Spending on Gun Violence Prevention, HBCUs, Parks, Law Enforcement


Governor Ralph Northam is set to announce his final budget proposal next week, and he has spent this week on his “Thank You, Virginia” tour highlighting key pieces of the proposal before he leaves office early next year. On Friday, he announced $27 million to establish a Center for Firearm Violence Intervention and Prevention.

“We lose a thousand Virginians to gun violence each year, and we must do everything we can to bring that number to zero,” Northam said in a press release that also highlighted gun control legislation he signed during his term. “The new research Center will collect important data that can lead to meaningful change. Gun violence is a public safety and a public health issue, and we have so much work to do to end this epidemic of violence. This data will save lives.”

His release also touted law enforcement reform legislation and pay increases for law enforcement Northam signed during his term.

On Thursday, he announced a proposal that would create a scholarship fund for students at private historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The proposal also includes $277 million for Virginia’s public HBCUs Norfolk State University and Virginia State University.

His Wednesday announcement touted proposed $245 million in funding for Virginia State Parks, regional trails, and the Office of Outdoor Recreation.

On Tuesday, the governor announced a 7.7 percent pay raise for new state troopers, a 25 percent increase in starting wages for correction officers and increasing the average entry-level salary for deputies by 20 percent. The proposal also includes funds to address pay compression. Virginia’s Department of Corrections (VDOC) is experiencing high vacancy rates; a 25 percent starting wage increase is approximately what a November VDOC report recommended to help department wage levels be competitive with other employers.

On Monday, Northam announced a $2.4 billion increase in education spending.

Northam’s proposed budget will pass to Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin and the General Assembly, who will make their own amendments before passing it. Many provisions are likely to remain, but funding priorities are likely to change, according to Delegate Barry Knight (R-Virginia Beach), who will be the House Appropriations Committee’s new Chair in 2022.

“Everybody has good ideas. He may even have a good idea or two in there, we don’t know. We may say yes, that’s a good idea, we’ll do it, but maybe at a different level. Or maybe that’s an initiative that has run its course and we want to go in a different direction,” Knight said Monday.

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Background Photo “Virginia Capitol” by Martin Kraft. CC BY-SA 3.0.




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