RICHMOND, Va. -- Lawmakers are back in Capitol chambers Monday for the first time since the pandemic began over a year ago.
They’re meeting to discuss how to spend $4.3 billion in federal CARES Act funding.
Governor Ralph Northam's budget plan includes putting some of the money away into a "rainy day fund," according to CBS 6 political analyst, Dr. Bob Holsworth.
Funding is also expected to go towards state and local police forces.
"In some sense, this is because there has been an ongoing concern about personnel shortages," Holsworth explained. "They may also have a political dimension to it in that the Democrats want to ensure that in this upcoming campaign, they're not seen as anti-police, even though we certainly had with some of the progressive elements in the Democratic Party and defund the police argument made last summer."
The governor's budget proposal includes financial aid for college students, and money to be allocated to schools to make improvements -- like new ventilation systems.
A significant amount of money is expected to be dedicated to mental health facilities.
"We have, actually have, a backlog of patients who need help, patients who need to be in these facilities who couldn't get in," said Holsworth. "So they're going to try to address that as well."
Small businesses can expect to benefit from this budget proposal, as they are still recovering from the financial impacts of the pandemic.
"That's where the governor and the Democrats hope to be able to convince ordinary people that they've used these federal dollars to help sustain those businesses that have really suffered during the during the pandemic, and to provide those services for people who may have suffered during the pandemic as well," Holsworth noted.
Holsworth says this special session is only expected to last a week, as Democrats control the House and Senate, and he believes they are in agreement of how to spend the $4.3 billion.
Last year's special session lasted 86 days, from August to October.