Virginia lawmakers pass one of the largest budgets in state history

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RICHMOND, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- Virginia's 2016 legislative session is in the books. State lawmakers signed off on one the largest budgets in Virginia history closing out their 2016 General Assembly Session.

Some lawmakers like Delegate Steve Landes (R-25) say they are pleased with this session.

"I think it's been a successful session," said Landes. "It's been somewhat less controversial than previous sessions which I'm happy about."

The session ended Friday evening after lawmakers passed a $100 billion two-year spending plan, including a large spending increase in public education, both K-12 and higher ed.

"Most parents and teachers have told us that they need to get back to where they were," said Landes. "With the reductions that we had to place in public education, because of the downturn in the economy, we wanted to make up that ground and also provide additional incentives."

That is including a two-percent pay raise for teachers starting this year.

The budget plan also has pay bumps for state workers, but the budget does not have any tax or fee increases, which Governor Terry McAuliffe had proposed, but he's also happy with the results.

"We got 90 percent of what I requested in the budget." said McAuliffe. "A billion dollars in education, our veterans were taken care of, I got the economic development pieces back in the budget, so I'm overjoyed."

One piece of legislation that passed was the Explicit Materials Bill that has received some backlash from the ACLU.

"I think there's been some misinformation on the bill. The idea is basically to codify what the board of education has already been working on for the last couple of years," said Landes. "That is simply to put a process that would be able to apply statewide, so every school system would know what the ground rules are."

Other notable occurrence during the nearly two-month session included a compromise on gun laws and a heated fight over a state Supreme Court vacancy.

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