Virus’ impact to Virginia budget not as bad as feared

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The coronavirus pandemic’s impact on Virginia’s state budget hasn’t been as bad as previously feared.
Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday that Virginia ended fiscal 2020 with a $236.5 million budget shortfall, far less than anticipated. Overall, state revenues were up 2% from the previous fiscal year.
Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne said Virginia’s high concentration of federal employees and contractors as well as workers who can telecommute, have helped soften the financial impact. Virginia is home to the Pentagon and the world’s largest naval base, and the Department of Defense has long been the state’s largest employer.
Layne said it’s still too early to tell whether the state will be able afford teacher raises and college tuition freezes lawmakers approved earlier this year but then suspended because of the pandemic. A new revenue forecast is due in August, just ahead of when lawmakers are set to return for a special session to deal with budget and other issues.