But McDonnell said the deferrals helped close a $4.2 billion shortfall that existed before the budget was enacted, and had nothing to do with the surplus. He also said adding that the state is repaying the deferral at an accelerated rate.
It remains unclear whether Virginia will give any additional money to Phase 2 of the Dulles Metrorail project. The transportation funds have to be reapportioned by the General Assembly and wouldn’t be available until at least next July.
Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton said the commonwealth is still working with stakeholders toward an agreement, but the roughly $90 million in surplus money available for transportation purposes aren’t slated to go toward Dulles rail at this point.
He said if Virginia makes a contribution, it would be primarily to reduce toll rates on the Dulles Toll Road.
In addition, the governor has been asked to restore in next year’s budget the roughly $60 million in aid to localities that was cut in the current fiscal year.
“When I develop the budget over the next couple of months, it’ll be one of the things I look at,” Mr. McDonnell said.
Other obligations include roughly $18 billion in unfunded liabilities for the Virginia Retirement System for state employees and teachers. The VRS fund also lost $3.5 billion, dropping from about $54.5 billion to $51 billion, over the past six weeks because of the stock market’s recent volatility.
Mr. McDonnell said he would propose further reforms to the system in the coming General Assembly session. He pushed for an optional defined contribution system, akin to a 401(k), during the past session. However, lawmakers passed legislation to require state employees hired before July 1, 2010 to contribute 5 percent of their salaries toward their pensions, to be offset with 5 percent raises.
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David Sherfinski covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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