Lawmakers are trying to budget the state out of the red ink created by slumping revenues tied to the economic crisis.
Virginia is in a hole, and it’s going to take a while to dig out of it. The hole isn’t as wide or as deep as some people feared it might be back in April. But it also hasn’t magically disappeared in phase two or phase three of reopening.
“I don’t think we are going to see much of this change until there is an actual vaccine," says Finance Secretary Aubrey Layne in explaining to the Senate Finance Committee that even after all the revenue reforecasting, lawmakers still need to slash more than two billion dollars out of the budget.
“It’s going to be based on consumer confidence," he explains. "When they feel safe to go back into some of these establishments. And no government is going to tell them that. That’s going to be a behavior that they’ll feel good about once there’s a vaccine.”
Senate Finance Committee Chairwoman Janet Howell says she wishes things were better. But she says for now she’s ready to play the hand she’s been dealt.
“Not the good news I was hoping for, but a dose of reality I suppose,” says Howell.
Lawmakers are now facing the reality of balancing the books again, the second time they’ve had to do it this year. Only this time, it’ll be with more than two billion dollars less revenue.