Debt ceiling is reason why Virginia leaders wait to finalize budget

PULASKI COUNTY, Va. – The nation’s debt ceiling and Congress’ delay in passing the budget is having a trickle-down effect preventing state and county leaders from finalizing theirs; that can have an impact on your child’s education.

Pre-K teacher and union president Candy Castelluccio loves what she does for a living.

“It’s wonderful, I love my job,” Castelluccio said.

Castelluccio loves her job now even more that teachers in Pulaski County are getting a five percent pay raise.

“We know that both the school system and the county were up against a hard budget year and waiting to hear from the state, so we are excited to see that both boards made it a priority,” Casetellucio said.

Pulaski County Administrator Jonathan Sweet said they use preliminary numbers to make sure their budget is finalized prior to June 30, before the next fiscal year begins.

“We have been conservative over the course of the last few years that allows us to manage this type of uncertainty from the state,” Sweet said.

Sweet and other leaders say it’s hard to balance their budget when they have not learned how much the state will give to the county.

“The state has still not shared with us, what the final budget is going to be and how it’ll benefit and affect local communities,” Sweet said.

It’s a concern shared among other county leaders.

Boards across the Commonwealth may have to make amendments to budgets once leaders learn how much they’re getting from the state.

In a recent meeting, Botetourt County leaders called their final budget a moving target.

“We’re currently going through the calculations tool, seeing what that actually means for the school divisions seeing what we approve and looking at what things to change, adjust,” Brandon Lee, Director of Finance said.

Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee Co-chair George Barker said negotiators still say it’s best to wait and see what happens in Washington.

“What we have to do is to be confident that we are going to have the revenues to deal with what we’re going to spend, one way or another,” Barker said.

Governor Glenn Youngkin sounded off about the budget.

“Virginians need a budget, we can afford it, we can cut taxes, we can invest in law enforcement, in education, in behavioral health, there’s more money in the system than then we’ve ever had before,” Youngkin said. “It’s time for us to give some of it back to Virginians.”

Caucus spokesman Garren Shipley said Republican House Appropriations Committee Chairman Barry Knight is in agreement about keeping talks on hold dependent on the debt ceiling outcome.

About the Author:

Duke Carter returned to 10 News in January 2022.