Senator Lynwood Lewis updates on General Assembly Session

March 14, 2022

By Senator Lynwood Lewis

We are approaching the end of this year’s legislative Session, and while most legislation has passed or failed at this point in the legislative process, we are still dealing with the biggest piece of Virginia’s even-year Session: the Budget – the most important thing we do as a Legislature.

In December, Governor Northam released his Budget for Fiscal Years 2022-2023 and 2023-2024. During this Session, House members, Senate members and Governor Youngkin’s office have submitted amendments to this Budget, and in late February the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees released their amended versions of the submitted Budget. As was anticipated, these two Budgets diverged significantly. While we will (hopefully) vote on a final compromise Budget this Saturday, March 12, on what should be the last day of the 2022 Session, there are currently many Budget items in the Senate version of the Budget that would benefit the Eastern Shore.

The Senate has prioritized increasing teacher salaries, a priority that is critical to staffing our public schools here on the Shore. We maintained the 5% raise for each year of the two-year budget for a total raise of 10% included in Governor Northam’s original Budget Bill, as well as an added $1,000 one-time bonus for educators. While this raise would give teachers a much-needed pay raise, the public schools on the Shore are still competing with Maryland, where salaries are significantly higher. Last year, after many, many years of advocacy by local officials and by me, the final Budget finally included a one-time appropriation of $2 million dollars to Northampton and Accomack Counties in order to increase salaries as a means of attracting and retaining teachers while competing with Maryland. The Senate once again included this funding, along with Budget language directing our Study Committee (JLARC) to do a comprehensive study of the Commonwealth’s current Cost of Compete Allowances (COCA) that would include looking at the inclusion of Northampton and Accomack Counties. I am hopeful that we will get the first part of that study prior to the 2023 Session, and that there will be recommendations that recognize how necessary our inclusion in COCA is to the quality of education here on the Shore. 

Bojangles Fried Chicken

The Senate Budget maintains nearly $9 million to the Towns of Wachapreague and Exmore for their sewer expansion in conjunction with the Hampton Roads Sanitation District and, while we were disappointed as to the lack of specificity in designated dollars for the much-discussed Rails to Trails project, the Senate Budget still maintains significant funding for the expansion and development of the Commonwealth’s trail network. If included in the final Budget, I will work with local leaders to help ensure some of this funding goes towards this exciting project. 

Also in the Senate Budget is $10 million in new funding for a Resilient Revolving Loan Fund created by my Bill, SB756. This funding would be available in the form of loans and grants to local governments and individuals for critical resiliency projects. This funding would also be a source for the match required for the Chincoteague Inlet Study. Equally as important for the Shore is the increase in funding to our Waterway Maintenance Fund. The multi-million dollar increase would allow for additional awarding of dollars by the Virginia Port Authority to several dredging projects on the Shore and in other rural coastal areas of the Commonwealth.

Additionally, the Senate Budget allocates $114k in funding to the Eastern Shore Coalition Against Domestic Violence for infrastructure needs at their new facility, maintains the $268 million at-risk add-on for our public schools as well as $500 million for school infrastructure grants to localities, provides $223 million in targeted compensation for law enforcement, to include deputy sheriffs, state police and correctional officers, and invests $190 million in the Housing Trust Fund to increase access to affordable housing. All of these investments would be beneficial to the Shore, and I have advocated for their inclusion in the final Budget.

As it sits, the House and Senate Budgets are difficult to compare, as they are starting from very different vantage points. The two Bodies have chosen divergent paths in relation to the influx in revenues the Commonwealth has experienced, and where the final Budget falls will likely be somewhere between the two proposals. We may well go into overtime yet again.

Please continue to reach out to my office through e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 804-698-7506. I appreciate and look forward to hearing from folks back home, and always try to do my best to legislate with each of you in mind.


Listen Live!


Local Weather

September 27, 2023, 9:45 pm
Mostly cloudy
Mostly cloudy
4 mph
real feel: 60°F
current pressure: 1023 mb
humidity: 85%
wind speed: 4 mph N
Windgusts: 25 mph
UV-Index: 0
sunrise: 6:54 am
sunset: 6:53 pm

Visit our sponsors



Throwback Thursday WESR Programming