Gov. Northam announces $245 million for outdoor recreation and trails

Published: Dec. 8, 2021 at 2:06 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Another day, another stop along Governor Ralph Northam’s “Thank you, Virginia” tour. And with that, another promise to invest hundreds of millions back into the commonwealth.

“These are things I think Virginians will agree with obviously we as legislators and certainly at the executive branch, we answer to the people of Virginia,” said Governor Ralph Northam, (D) Virginia.

On Brown’s Island in Richmond Wednesday, Northam announced he’s setting aside $245 million for outdoor recreation in his proposed budget.

The funding will go toward supporting existing trails as well as developing new ones like the Fall Line Trail. That’s the 43-mile Ashland-to-Petersburg nature route.

“It’s not just a mental and physical health issue, it’s also an equity issue because for too long too many residents in the poorer parts of our cities have not had easy access to green space or community space,” said Mayor Levar Stoney, Richmond.

Northam said this funding is a priority because the pandemic highlighted the value of being outdoors.

“We have the revenues so we need to invest in things we’ve been talking about for a long time and most of these issues, we’re not going to agree on everything Henry but most of these issues are bipartisan issues,” said Gov. Northam.

And that’s partly true. Also on hand for the announcement was Republican State Senator Emmett Hanger, who also has the ear of governor-elect Glenn Youngkin.

“Yes he’s aware of that and I really believe that’s an area where he will be supportive of as well,” said State Sen. Emmett Hanger, (R) 24th District.

The current governor, who presents his budget proposal next week, is promising a 10% pay raise for teachers. He’s also upping salaries for Virginia State Troopers, correctional officers, deputy sheriffs, and regional jail officers.

But, state republicans, and their red pen, will have the final vote.

“Sometimes it’s like a family budget, you want a lot of things but sometimes you don’t always get exactly what you want for Christmas,” said State Sen. Hanger.

After Northam presents his budget, state republicans will work on their own and then present one to the incoming governor next year.

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