State weighs damage to budget, impact on businesses

State weighs damage to budget, impact on businesses
Virginia Capitol. (Source: Capital News Service)

RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ7) - The economic crisis was looming when state lawmakers adjourned in early March. And some are now calling on the Governor to consider emergency first-aid for the state budget.

"There are a number of pieces of legislation that we're looking at regarding our business environment," Governor Ralph Northam said during a briefing Wednesday afternoon, "and I haven't made any definite decisions."

Northam said dealing with the health crisis is his first priority.

But the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the nation's economy and Virginia's business climate is undeniable.

Republican leaders in the State Senate including Steve Newman (R-Bedford County) are calling for a reset on the state budget, and relief for beleaguered businesses.

"This clearly was the most difficult year for local and small businesses in Virginia," Newman said in a telephone interview. "There were just so many bills that would be injurious to our businesses. And now we've got the impact of COVID-19. And I don't think our businesses can take that one-two punch."

Democratic lawmakers like Roanoke Delegate Sam Rasoul say help for Virginia businesses is critical, but they aren't ready to delay or dispose of major priorities such as the increase in the minimum wage.

"Look, clearly we need to be sure that we're helping businesses along in this very tough time," Rasoul told WDBJ7, "but we're finding that many of these folks that are making minimum wage on the front lines are in the most critical positions. So we'll try to find a balance."

Lawmakers return to Richmond for the one-day veto session later this month, but it appears increasingly likely a special session will be required, perhaps sometime this summer.

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