2016 General Assembly to spend record amount of money

Posted at 11:23 PM, Jan 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-13 21:35:36-05

 From allowing court  clerks to avoid performing gay marriages for religious reasons to restoring confederate license plates, state lawmakers have already filed hundreds of bills on a wide range of issues.

Among them: Whether to study putting  a moratorium on new leases for oyster farming in the Lynnhaven river, and whether the state should fund the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in Portsmouth.

But the prime time debate revolves around the state budget proposed by Governor Terry McAuliffe:  "I’m making strategic investments in the budget so that we can grow, diversify, bring more business to the Commonwealth of Virginia"

For the first time Virginia’s two-year budget would top $100 billion. Some of Governor McAuliffe's proposals will likely get Republican support in the General Assembly.

McAuliffe wants to invest an additional $1 billion in education after years of declining state support. And for the third year McAuliffe is trying to push through an expansion of Medicaid funding.

This time around he’s going at it differently.  Instead of using state money he wants to charge hospitals a fee equal to three percent of their revenue. That’s not going to fly with many in the GOP, including House Speaker William Howell: "2016 could be a tough, tough year for the country.  So i think it’s unrealistic. That’s what I like about the way our people put our budget together,  it’s very conservative.”

The session opens Wednesday and is scheduled to last sixty days.