L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs



Large majority of Virginians lacked information about the state budget process


Janurary 12, 2021


Robyn McDougle

Director, Center for Public Policy                                              

Phone: (804) 721-6703
Email: rdmcdougle@vcu.edu

RICHMOND, Va. (Jan. 12, 2021) — More than 8 in 10 Virginians (81%) said they did not have enough information to approve or disapprove of the state budget that was passed during the most recent General Assembly special session, according to the new statewide Commonwealth Poll conducted by the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University. 

Gov. Ralph Northam called the General Assembly into special session on Aug. 18 to address a $2.8 billion revenue shortfall in the biennial budget, impacts directly associated with COVID-19. With the House of Delegates conducting their chamber’s work remotely and the Senate conducting its work at the Science Museum of Virginia, access and awareness of the budget process was conducted in a fashion never before seen in Virginia.

“The poll reflects an overwhelming majority of Virginians feel that the government has not provided information on how their taxpayer dollars are being spent,” said former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder.

Additionally, 49% of Virginians approve of the level of transparency with which Northam has spent federal resources for the pandemic while 36% disapprove. Democrats and minorities are more likely to approve with 80% and 61% respectively. Those in Tidewater region and Northern Virginia are also more likely to approve with 62% and 60%, compared to 45% in the Northwest, 38% in the South Central and 30% of those in the West region.

The Winter 2021 Commonwealth Poll involved telephone interviews with a representative sample of 827 adults, age 18 or older, living in Virginia. Interviews were conducted by landline (413) and cellphone (414, including 254 without a landline) from Dec 11-30. The margin of error for the complete set of weighted data is 5.39 percentage points.

For the full poll results and analysis, visit https://oppo.vcu.edu/policy-poll/.



The L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, named for the nation’s first African-American elected governor, is a top-50 nationally ranked public affairs school. Located blocks from the state Capitol in Richmond, Virginia, the school enrolls about 1,000 undergraduates and 400 graduate students in eight academic programs. The Wilder School’s 10,000-plus alumni work across the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Drawing on the wide-ranging expertise of Wilder School faculty, the Center for Public Policy's programs provide diverse public-facing services including leadership development and training, economic and policy impact analysis, survey insights and program evaluation to clients in state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, businesses and the general public, across Virginia and beyond. For more, please visit https://wilder.vcu.edu/center-for-public-policy/.