Yesterday, we learned that Virginia ended the fiscal year with a $553 million budget surplus.
The General Assembly’s cautious approach and responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars is the reason for this good news. We acted quickly last year to close a projected $2.4 billion shortfall. This year, we adopted a series of conservative amendments to the two-year budget, eliminated over $40 million in debt and fees proposed by the Governor, and spent almost $1 billion less than last year’s enacted budget.
As required by our Constitution and the budget, the surplus will be redirected to the rainy day fund and other core functions of government. This also means that the pay raises for our teachers, state police officers, college faculty, sheriff’s deputies, and state employees will kick in.
However, while we can be proud of this news, we must recognize that our Commonwealth continues to face both short and long-term economic challenges.
Virginia’s economy is struggling. We reported zero percent growth in the first quarter of this year and recently fell to 12th in CNBC’s list of Top States for Business. Sequestration only adds to the uncertainty ahead.
Governor McAuliffe’s approach to economic development isn’t producing real growth. A good sales pitch is not enough. We need a better, more focused strategy to create jobs and long-term economic growth.
That means we must continue to be conservative and responsible with our budgeting. We need to provide regulatory relief to small businesses, encourage innovators and entrepreneurs, and create real economic growth for Virginia families.
Over the next few months, I look forward to sharing how Republicans will grow our economy to help Virginia families and businesses.