It also includes $2.5 million for a violence-reduction program and language requiring Department of Motor Vehicles offices to return to walk-in services that were halted during the pandemic.
The House of Delegates approved the compromise spending plan by a bipartisan vote of 78 to 20, with no debate. The Senate passed it 23 to 16, with two Republicans joining all Democrats in voting for it. One Republican senator was absent.
Gov. Ralph Northam (D) called the spending plan a “generational opportunity.”
“While other states are closing budget gaps, we are investing in Virginians,” Northam said in a statement. “We have consistently put resources into helping families, businesses, and communities recover from this pandemic and prepare for the future.”
Most of the package had been negotiated before the special legislative session convened Aug. 2 in deals reached between Northam and Democrats, who control both chambers. The plan calls for using $800 million of the American Rescue Plan money to replenish the state’s unemployment trust fund, $700 million for rural broadband, $411 million on clean-water projects, $353 million for small-business relief and $250 million for school ventilation systems.
Northam already has plans for $354 million of the $1.1 billion in unappropriated funds, intending to roll it into the two-year budget he will propose in December for mental health, small-business recovery and other programs.
But his plans are not binding on the legislature, which will vote on the next budget after Northam completes his term in January.
Democratic leaders had sought to prevent any changes to the slate of programs, but last week members of the Senate agreed to several modest amendments.
Del. Luke E. Torian (D-Prince William), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said the compromise plan contained 19 changes, most of which were technical.
His Senate counterpart, Sen. Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax), defended the process that got the spending plan approved in a week’s time. “We all know many of our constituents are suffering and time is of the essence,” Howell said.
House and Senate budget conferees agreed to keep language in the spending plan that allows college athletes to make money off their name, image and likeness. The Senate had attempted to strip out that language last week.
Also Monday, the House Courts and Senate Judiciary committees announced that they had agreed on eight nominees to fill two vacancies and six new seats on the Virginia Court of Appeals, the second-highest state court. The nominees are expected to be certified in committee votes Tuesday and then formally elected by a vote in the full chambers later that day.
The nominees are:
●Dominique A. Callins of Front Royal, who practices family law at Simms Showers.
●Doris Henderson Causey of Henrico, managing attorney of Central Virginia Legal Aid Society.
●Vernida R. Chaney of Alexandria, a criminal defense lawyer at Chaney Law Firm.
●Frank Friedman of Roanoke, chairman of the Woods Rogers appellate team.
●Junius P. Fulton of Norfolk, a Norfolk Circuit Court judge.
●Lisa M. Lorish of Charlottesville, an assistant federal public defender and appellate specialist for the Western District of Virginia and lecturer at the University of Virginia School of Law.
●Daniel E. Ortiz of Fairfax, a Fairfax County Circuit Court judge.
●Stuart A. Raphael of Arlington, a former Virginia solicitor general who is a partner at Hunton Andrews Kurth.
Democrats said the nominees, all of them vetted by various bar associations, would bring racial, gender, geographic and practice-area diversity to the bench. Four of the nominees are women, and four are Black.
In the Senate on Monday, Republicans renewed objections to the process, saying they had not been consulted on the nominees, but Democrats said Republicans never consulted them when the GOP was in charge.
“The majority caucus has, frankly, the final say on who gets nominated,” said Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City). “That’s not something that originated with us. That’s part of democracy — majority rules.”
Sen. John S. Edwards (D-Roanoke) said the Senate Judiciary Committee, which he chairs, would on Tuesday be willing to interview any judicial candidates whom Republicans want to propose. But Edwards cautioned that the House Courts of Justice Committee has no plans to interview them, so those nominations could not advance to the House and Senate floors.
“Isn’t that a fool’s errand?” asked Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (R-Rockingham).
Edwards said that characterization was Obenshain’s, not his, “but I think the senator gets the point.”