Virginia lawmakers to take up budget compromise Wednesday
RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - Virginia lawmakers return to Richmond Wednesday to vote on a long-awaited budget compromise.
The regular session of the General Assembly ended in early March without an agreement, but negotiators from central and western Virginia believe they have struck a deal that will have enough bipartisan support to pass.
“Everyone on both sides got a little bit of what they wanted,” said Del. Terry Austin (R-Botetourt Co.). “There’s a compromise. The art of politics is compromise.”
“I think it’s one that will have some bipartisan support on both sides,” added Sen. Steve Newman (R-Bedford Co.), “and all in all I think it will be good for Virginia.”
The standoff between the House and Senate hinged on differing priorities - how much of the record surplus to devote to tax relief, and how much to spend on important programs.
It came down to a classic compromise.
Governor Youngkin got a lot of the tax relief he proposed, but not all. And there is additional spending for priorities like pay raises for state employees, teachers and law enforcement officers.
And the conference report has substantial funding for projects in western Virginia, including $25 million to pay off bonds associated with the Central Virginia Training Center in Madison Heights.
“What this means is that large piece of property, over 300 acres, we’re going to be able to take the bonds off of that facility,” Newman told WDBJ7, “which means it’s really going to be available for development some 14 years earlier than it would have been if we had to wait out through the bond process.”
And the compromise includes $750,000 to study the feasibility of transforming Catawba Hospital into a state-of-the-art campus that would add substance abuse treatment and addiction recovery to mental health services it already provides.
“There are so many families that have been touched by substance use disorder and the opioid epidemic, now we’re going to have an investment to look at how we can transform the Catawba campus and really help these families in need,” said Del. Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke). “So, I’m excited and I know a lot of people have been desperate for this type of investment for a long time.”
Lawmakers must vote the conference report up or down, so they can’t make changes during Wednesday’s session.
But it won’t be the last word on the budget.
Governor Youngkin will have an opportunity to offer amendments.
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