Gov. Northam signs revised budget, protections granted from utility shutoff and evictions
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has lended his signature to the state’s revised biennial budget which includes protections from evictions and utility shutoffs related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The completion of the the budget follows a called special session in August to address the state’s financial challenges and other critical issues facing the state as the pandemic rages on. As it relates to utility shutoff prevention, the budget includes $100 million in finances for support to customers struggling to pay bills while the state has placed a moratorium on disconnections until further notice.
The budget also blocks landlords from evicting renters for nonpayment through the end of the year, while requiring both to work together starting Jan. 1 to access rent assistance through the state’s rent and mortage relief program before an eviction could proceed.
Northam’s signature to the budget also finalizes previously announced funding allocated to the following areas through money granted to the state through the CARES Act:
*Vaccination Program: $22 million for the Virginia Department of Health’s vaccination preparation and planning through the end of 2020
*K-12 Schools: $220 million for COVID-19 preparedness and response efforts in K-12 public schools, with all 132 school districts receiving at least $100,000
*Higher Education: $116 million to support ongoing COVID-19 response at public colleges, universities, and medical schools and $22 million for the State Council of Higher Education for *Virginia to provide payments to private institutions of higher education
*Child Care: $65.8 million to increase access to child care and continue child care incentive grant program established in April
*Small Business Assistance: $70 million to establish the Rebuild VA economic recovery fund providing grants to small businesses and nonprofit organizations impacted by the pandemic and $30 million in additional funds to continue the program
*Broadband Accessibility: $30 million to fast-track broadband projects in underserved localities
*Home Health Workers: $73 million to provide hazard pay to home health personal attendants who served high-risk populations during the early months of the pandemic
*Workforce Training for Unemployed Virginians: $30 million to established the Re-Employing Virginians initiative providing scholarships to individuals who enroll in programs in high-demand fields
*Rent and Mortgage Relief: $12 million to expand the Virginia Rent and Mortgage Relief Program launched in June
*Food Banks: $7 million to help Virginia food banks meet increased demand for food assistance
*Medicaid Day Support Providers: $25 million to fund monthly retainer payments for day support programs that provide services for Virginians with developmental disabilities.
*Free Clinics: $3 million to reimburse members of the Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics for COVID-19 expenses
For a full list of legislation signed by Gov. Northam, click here.