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Gov. Ralph Northam lays out priorities for 2-year state budget

Gov. Ralph Northam unveiled his two-year budget proposal Tuesday, pitching tax increases for motor fuels and tobacco products, which he’d like then to use to scrap car inspections and lower registration fees, and lower insurance premiums with new health programs.

Northam said the priorities in the $47.5 billion general fund budget are a reflection of the results of the November election, when Democrats flipped the General Assembly, bringing the party in full power at the Capitol.

“In November, Virginia sent a clear signal for direction they want our commonwealth to go,” Northam told the General Assembly’s two money committees. “They want us to continue to build a Virginia that is welcoming and respectful of all, and a Virginia that takes care of its citizens when they need help the most.”

His proposals such as tuition-free community college, nearly doubling the amount spent to expand broadband coverage and increased funding weighted to support school systems with the most students in poverty would be especially beneficial to rural western Virginia. However, some lawmakers expressed concern about the large price tags and higher taxes.

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