Gov. Ralph Northam issued a proclamation calling the members of the General Assembly into special session on Monday, August 2. A special session is necessary to fill judicial vacancies and allocate more than $4.3 billion in federal relief funding.
“With more Virginians getting vaccinated every day, we are turning the corner and building back stronger,” said Northam. “Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, we have a unique opportunity to fund public schools, support small businesses, achieve universal broadband access, and make generational investments in our shared future. I look forward to working with legislators to get it done.”
Earlier this summer, Governor Northam and legislative leaders issued a joint statement outlining their shared priorities for this federal funding:
Public health. Upgrade long-underfunded state and local public health services, boost affordable housing, and help Virginians with the cost of utilities.
Small businesses. Fully fund the Rebuild Virginia economic recovery program, invest in Virginia Tourism’s work to recruit visitors back to the Commonwealth, and help the Department Housing and Community Development support Virginia’s main streets, small towns, and industrial revitalization.
Workers. Fund the Unemployment Trust Fund to support workers who lose their jobs and avoid increased costs on Virginia businesses, increase support for the Virginia Employment Commission—historically one of the lowest-funded unemployment systems in the country—to continue upgrading its computer systems and hire necessary staff.
Public schools. Modernize public school buildings across Virginia by rehabilitating and upgrading existing facilities, improving air quality and HVAC systems, and improving safety.
Broadband. Accelerate a 10-year plan to ensure universal broadband access within the next 18 months.
President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 into law in March, directing $350 billion in economic recovery funding for state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments. All Republican members of Congress voted against the law, including those representing Virginia.