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by Brandon Jarvis

Legislators voted to finalize a budget on Wednesday after months of negotiations behind closed doors. Governor Glenn Youngkin will have seven days to amend the budget and send it back once he receives it. People with knowledge expect the governor to formally receive the finalized budget sometime next week. The current budget ends on June 30.

The budget received bipartisan support in both chambers as it simultaneously provides tax relief and increases spending at the same time. It passed the House 88-7 and the Senate 32-4.

House Republicans had to compromise on some issues to get Senate Democrats to pass the budget but they still seem pleased with the outcome.

“This budget invests in the core functions of state government and accomplishes a great deal of what House Republicans told Virginians we’d work toward when we asked for their votes in November,” said Speaker of the House Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah. “This budget shows our commitment to improving Virginians’ lives, helping our economy during uncertain times, all while protecting the taxpayers. This is a budget every Virginian can be proud of.”

Del. Don Scott (D-Portsmouth) on his first day as minority leader released the following comment after the passage of the budget. “We know the struggles Virginians face with rising costs,” he said. “We know how hard a year it’s been for students and teachers. We share Virginians’ concerns about an extreme agenda that prioritizes the profits of gun manufacturers over public safety and puts Richmond politicians in between a woman and her health care provider. House Democrats are fighting back, and we will keep fighting for a Commonwealth that works for every Virginian.”

Senate Democrats praised the budget as they also needed to compromise in order to get it through the House.

“I am so proud of the incredible work my fellow budget conferees, House and Senate money committees staff, and all members of the General Assembly have completed on the spending plan approved today,” said Finance & Appropriations Chair Janet Howell. “We have been able to significantly increase funding for many high priority programs, focused on making wise investments in Virginia’s people and our future.”

Governor Glenn Youngkin did not get everything he wanted but a lot of his priorities were included in the budget.

“The governor is pleased that the general assembly has moved forward on the budget and adopted a great framework which delivers on his key priorities to give Virginians tax relief, pass the largest education budget, and invest more in law enforcement and behavioral health,” said Macaulay Porter, a spokesperson for Youngkin. “The governor and his team continue to review the language of the budget and discuss potential amendments.” 

Several House Republicans released a statement through the caucus Wednesday:

“Virginians can feel good about this budget. With much-needed tax relief, record investments in K-12 education, funding for higher education and workforce development, well-deserved pay raises for public employees, and investments in the military and veteran community, it truly reflects our values as a people and as a Commonwealth,” added House Majority Leader Terry Kilgore, R-Gate City. “ I’m proud of the foresight and the tenacity our conferees and the entire Republican caucus have shown during this process.”

“Virginia’s relationship with the military, and with veterans and military families, is unique in our country. Our Commonwealth is home to more veterans than any other state, and we’re home to some of the largest and most important facilities that contribute to our nation’s defense,” said House Republican Caucus Chair Amanda Batten, R-James City County. “The budget we’ve sent to Governor Youngkin begins the process of exempting the first $40,000 in military retirement income for those age 55 and older, giving back to those who have given so much for us. This budget will also fund the long-overdue completion of the I-64 widening on the peninsula, strengthening our region’s connection with the rest of the Commonwealth and bringing relief for long-suffering drivers.”

“Businesses in Virginia, especially small businesses, have taken a beating in the past few years due to COVID and related measures, and now inflation. I’m proud to say that this budget takes significant steps to change that,” said House Majority Whip Michael Webert, R-Fauquier. “The budget replenishes the unemployment trust fund whole again, so businesses won’t be on the hook for higher taxes to make up the difference. It also ends the ‘accelerated sales tax’ gimmick once and for all, putting every business in Virginia back on an equal footing.

“When politicians get their hands on one-time money, they like to spend it on recurring items. I’m proud to say that in this budget, we’ve done the opposite,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Barry Knight, R-Virginia Beach. “We’ve used money that will recur year after year for one-time items. The end result is not only a structurally-balanced budget that protects our AAA bond rating, but a budget that funds our priorities while simultaneously providing tax relief. No new general fund debt, no tax hikes, no higher fees. It’s a budget we can all be proud of.”

Democratic leadership in the Senate also released statements:

Majority Leader Dick Saslaw said: “The bipartisan budget passed today strives to ensure every Virginian has the opportunity to succeed and live a prosperous life. This spending plan reflects the priorities set out by Senate Democrats at the beginning of the 2022 General Assembly Session: strengthening our economy by investing in workforce development and uplifting our students with critical investments in public education, including funding for school renovation and innovation. Additionally, we approved funding to address the growing need in community mental health and for gun violence prevention. We put our money where our mouth is and worked together to do what is best in the post-pandemic recovery. This biennial budget is a win/win for Virginians across the Commonwealth.”

Caucus Chair Mamie Locke said: “When Senate Democrats came to the bargaining table on the budget, we had a different table in mind–Virginians’ kitchen tables. In the plan, we are helping families across the Commonwealth not only with covering basic needs like housing, food, and healthcare but also providing a world-class education for every student–no matter their zip code, background, or ability. The scope of this budget is unprecedented, and I am proud of the steps we have taken through it toward a more inclusive, fair, and prosperous Commonwealth.”

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By vascope

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