- The Washington Times - Monday, February 16, 2015

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Monday announced an additional $136 million in state revenue as a result of a final midsession analysis, putting the commonwealth’s finances in better shape as lawmakers weigh amendments to the current two-year budget.

The announcement comes on the heels of a $338 million revenue increase Mr. McAuliffe revealed earlier this month to the Republican-led legislature.

“While we still have a responsibility to be cautious stewards of taxpayer dollars, our improving revenue picture is great news for our Commonwealth,” Mr. McAuliffe said in a statement.

Combined with the previous announcement, the total revenue forecast is being revised upward by $245 million in fiscal 2015 and $229 million in fiscal 2016.

Mr. McAuliffe, a Democrat, said he wants to use part of the increase to fund a pay raise for public school teachers, and called on the House and Senate to reserve a portion for the state’s rainy day fund as well.

The governor’s office said preliminary calculations suggest that about $300 million will be required for the revenue stabilization fund in fiscal 2017.

Mr. McAuliffe also wants to restore money for items like a tourism growth fund and the Governor’s Economic Development Opportunity Fund, which can be used to lure businesses to the state.

Both the House and the Senate funded only part of Mr. McAuliffe’s $28 million request for the governor’s opportunity fund in their approved budgets.

Negotiators will huddle this week to work out differences between the spending plans advanced by the House and Senate last week.

The House’s budget includes nearly $100 million for the rainy day fund and eliminates about $10 million in fees and $43 million in debt proposed by Mr. McAuliffe in his own budget blueprint.

The Senate budget, like the House‘s, accounts for pay increases for state employees and teachers, and rejects Mr. McAuliffe’s bid to expand eligibility for Medicaid under President Obama’s health care law to as many as 400,000 uninsured Virginians.

The current two-year budget remained in limbo for months last year with the Senate, then effectively controlled by Democrats, and the GOP-led House at loggerheads over the inclusion of the Medicaid expansion in the state budget.

The sudden resignation of former state Sen. Phillip P. Puckett, Tazewell Democrat, in June tipped control of the Senate to a 20-19 Republican advantage and cleared the way for the budget to pass ahead of a possible shutdown after June 30.

The legislature now is dealing with amendments to that two-year budget.

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