State Fiscal Briefs

May 2022

Looking for Virginia data related to the pandemic? We have health, economic, and fiscal data on our new tool, How the COVID-19 Pandemic is Transforming State Budgets.

Virginia’s budget basics

According to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), Virginia’s total expenditures in fiscal year (FY) 2021 were $75.0 billion, including general funds, other state funds, bonds, and federal funds. NASBO reported that total expenditures across all states in FY 2021 were $2.7 trillion, ranging from $4.7 billion in Wyoming to $512.8 billion in California.

Each state allocates spending and taxes differently among different levels of governments, and local governments often administer programs with state funds, so combined state and local government data show a more complete picture of individual benefits and contributions when comparing states.

Per the US Census Bureau, Virginia’s combined state and local direct general expenditures were $80.0 billion in FY 2019 (the most recent year census data were available), or $9,346 per capita. (Census data exclude “business-like” activities such as utilities and transfers between state and local governments.) National per capita direct general expenditures were $10,161.

Virginia’s largest spending areas per capita were elementary and secondary education ($2,157) and public welfare ($1,658). The Census Bureau includes most Medicaid spending in public welfare but also allocates some of it to public hospitals. Per capita spending is useful for state comparisons but is an incomplete metric because it doesn’t provide any information about a state’s demographics, policy decisions, administrative procedures, or residents’ choices.

Virginia’s combined state and local general revenues were $83.7 billion in FY 2019, or $9,785 per capita. National per capita general revenues were $10,563. Virginia uses all major state and local taxes. Virginia’s largest sources of per capita revenue were charges ($2,042), such as state university tuition and highway tolls, and property taxes ($1,766).

Virginia’s politics

Governor Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, was elected in 2021 with 50 percent of the vote. The next gubernatorial election is in 2025. Virginia is the only state that does not let a sitting governor run for reelection. A governor can run for a non-consecutive second term, though.

Virginia has a divided government. Republicans control the House of Delegates, (52 Republicans to 48 Democrats) while Democrats control the Senate (21 Democrats to 19 Republicans). All Virginia House seats are on the ballot in 2023 because delegates serve two-year terms. Senators serve four-year terms, and their seats are on the ballot in 2023.

Virginia’s budget institutions, rules, and constraints

Virginia uses a biennial budget. The legislature is not required to pass a balanced budget, the governor is not required to sign one, and deficits may be carried over into the following year. However, the state has budget rules that require lawmakers to balance revenues and expenditures. Virginia does not have any tax and expenditure limits. The state does limit total authorized debt and debt service incurred by the state.

(Note: Some states have informal budget institutions that constrain overall spending growth or a specific expenditure’s growth.)

Virginia’s current budget

Governor Glenn Youngkin released his FY 2023-2024 biennial budget proposal and gave his state of the state address in January 2022.

Virginia enacted its FY 2021-2022 biennial budget adjustment in April 2021. The enacted budget included $71.2 billion in total spending and $25.3 billion in general fund spending in FY 2022.

Under the American Rescue Plan, Virginia will receive $4.3 billion in direct state fiscal aid and $2.3 billion in local government aid from the federal government. As of January 2022, Virginia had spent part of its ARP funds on refilling its unemployment insurance trust fund, capital construction, broadband expansion, economic development, and education spending.

According to NASBO, Virginia’s recent expenditure totals (general fund spending/total spending, including federal transfers) were:

  • FY 2021: $22.6 billion/$75.0 billion

  • FY 2020: $21.9 billion/$64.4 billion

  • FY 2019: $21.8 billion/$55.3 billion

For more on Virginia’s budget, see