Governor praises lawmakers after budget passes

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Virginia lawmakers have approved a new state budget that includes a pay increases for state employees, boosts cash benefits for welfare recipients and gives Gov. Terry McAuliffe more money to spend on economic development.

Lawmakers voted Thursday to approve a spending plan that does not raise taxes and also restores $30 million for local governments that had previously been cut.

The GOP-controlled General Assembly did not include expanding Medicaid, a top priority for state Democrats.

Virginia’s budget situation has brightened in recent months due to higher-than-projected revenues and other factors, giving lawmakers more money to spend this legislative session.

The budget includes a 1.5 percent pay increase in the state’s share of teacher pay, and a 2 percent increase in the salaries of state police, state employees and college faculty.

“Virginians should be proud of the manner in which their leaders worked together across branches of government and party lines to pass a balanced budget that invests in a key priorities for a new Virginia economy,” said McAuliffe. “I want to thank Chairmen Jones, Stosch and Colgan for their partnership throughout a budget process that has been marked by bipartisan leadership and cooperation.

“At the beginning of this session, I asked the General Assembly to pass a budget that closes our revenue shortfall while enhancing economic development, investing in expanded health care services, protecting education and giving state employees a raise. I am pleased that the budget passed by the House and the Senate honors all of those priorities and I look forward to reviewing in detail in the coming days.”

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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