Gov. Ralph Northam announced on July 17 that he is calling the General Assembly into special session on Tuesday, Aug. 18, following the governor’s traditional end-of-fiscal-year report to the General Assembly’s money committees. A special session is necessary to adopt a budget based on the revised revenue forecast in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“I look forward to bringing legislators back in session as we continue to navigate these unprecedented times,” said Northam. “We have a unique opportunity to provide critical support to Virginians, invest strategically in our economic recovery, and make progress on policing and criminal justice reform. Let’s get to work.”
The General Assembly will meet to adopt a final budget, a process that was postponed earlier in the year due to COVID-19. In April, Northam worked with legislators to “unallot,” or freeze, over $2.2 billion in new spending in Virginia’s new biennial budget. This strategy allowed time for the Commonwealth’s fiscal outlook to stabilize and avoided major cuts to important new programs and state services. Legislators will now consider a number of items previously “unalloted”—including investments in early childhood education, tuition-free community college, affordable housing, and broadband.
Policing initiatives are expected to include measures aimed at police accountability and oversight, use of force, increased training and education, and officer recruitment, hiring, and decertification. Northam has directed the Department of Criminal Justice Services, the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the Virginia African American Advisory Board, and the Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law to assist the administration in developing policy initiatives.