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Virginia has $797 million budget surplus, state leaders stress caution

RICHMOND, Va. -- Both Virginia's Democratic governor and Republican legislative leaders took some credit for the Commonwealth ending the most recent fiscal year with a $797 million budget surplus.

"Over the last year we have worked together to maintain Virginia’s triple-A bond rating, put more money in our reserves, and made smart investments in our long-term growth," Governor Northam said as he addressed a Joint Meeting of the Senate Finance, House Appropriations, and House Finance Committees on Tuesday morning. "But as the global economy changes, we must be both cautious and strategic."

The governor addressed accomplishments he said his administration has contributed to improving Virginia's economy.

"One of my proudest days as Governor was to be at Shenandoah River State Park for the announcement that CNBC had named the Commonwealth the best state for business. Over the years, we have moved steadily from 13th, to 7th, to 4th, and we are now back to our rightful place at number one," he said. "This is an achievement for every one of us, and it comes because we have all worked together. My top priority as Governor is making sure that every Virginian — no matter who you are or where you live — is able to fully participate in our economic growth. By diversifying our economy, investing in our workforce, and keeping a stable and open business climate, I am proud to report that my administration has secured extensive new investment and jobs across the Commonwealth."

Both the governor and Republican state leaders urged cautious future spending, despite the economic growth.

"We are seeing the results of our steady and conservative budgeting approach," House Appropriations Chairman S. Chris Jones (R-Suffolk) said. “I am proud of the work the House Appropriations Committee, along with our Senate colleagues, have done to get us to this point. However, I am cognizant of the uncertainty on the horizon, and this tells me we need to recommit ourselves to a cautious financial approach that hedges against future economic downturns. A surplus does not mean there is money to spend, so there’s not much to be excited about. It will be business as usual in January."

The governor's office noted of the $797 million surplus was money "already obligated for items such as water quality and taxpayer relief."

Click here to read the full budget report.

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