RICHMOND (WRIC)—With just a few weeks left in office, Gov. Bob McDonnell is getting ready to unveil his final two-year state budget.
The governor has spent the past week previewing some elements of the budget, which includes more than $38 million in mental health initiatives.
"If you look at it, maybe you want to call it a bridge budget," said Tucker Martin, communications director for Gov. McDonnell. "It reflects what Gov. McDonnell has done—what he finds important—but also tries to ensure that the new administration is ready to hit the ground running when they come in."
Days before outlining his next budget, McDonnell announced millions in spending for education, public safety, water quality and prisoner re-entry programs.
"The last five years obviously have been tough with the budget, but we've dramatically increased the resources," McDonnell said.
Among the governor's announcements, dedicating upwards of $38 million to mental health initiatives is perhaps the timeliest. It comes less than a month after the death of state Senator Creigh Deeds' son, Gus, who stabbed his father and then committed suicide just hours after being released from emergency custody.
"We've come up with a series of budget proposals that will expand crisis response and crisis prevention services for Virginia's behavioral health system," McDonnell said.
Tragedies like the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech have also prompted calls for more mental health funding.
"We've done a lot in the wake of Virginia Tech in 2007," Martin said. "That was a bipartisan effort, but there's always more that can be done, and obviously we've learned through some recent events that we see where some dollars could be directed."
The governor also said last week that he's left some cash reserves in his budget to give some flexibility to Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe, who will take office Jan. 11.
Gov. McDonnell is expected to release more details on his budget to monetary committees the morning of Dec. 16.
Copyright 2013 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond
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