McAuliffe touts strong Virginia economy for record budget surplus

Gov. Terry McAuliffe
Gov. Terry McAuliffe (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

RICHMOND (WSLS 10) - Gov. Terry McAuliffe believes the Great Recession is now over in Virginia after higher than expected state tax revenues led to a budget surplus.

During a news conference Monday, the governor said the state revenues were $553 million more than projected last fiscal year. It's the highest budget surplus on record in the Commonwealth.

"You have a general feeling that there's confidence back to spend money," McAuliffe said. "You have businesses that are moving in. We have more workers than at anytime in our history. We do have the lowest number of unemployment than the entire southeast. We can keep this going."

The extra revenues, mostly due to income tax collections, will largely be set aside in the state's rainy day fund. The extra money allow the state to enact pre-approved raises of two percent for state workers.

Locally, Republicans and Democrats took credit for the surplus.

"The governor didn't make a single amendment to the budget we passed in the General Assembly. That hasn't happened in decades," said Del. Greg Habeeb (R-Salem). "The work was hammered out in the (Republican-controlled) General Assembly. We passed a responsible, conservative budget."

"We did operate on a bipartisan basis and We got a balanced budget," said Sen. John Edwards (D-Roanoke). "We thought we would have a shortfall but it turns out the revenue increase is much more than we ever anticipated."

Edwards calls McAuliffe the best jobs governor in Virginia's history.

While celebrating the budget surplus, McAuliffe warned of the impact federal defense spending cuts could have on the Commonwealth. Those are expected to happen in September.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.