Virginia lawmakers approve state budget
RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - Virginia lawmakers ended their standoff on the state budget Wednesday, as the House of Delegates and State Senate approved a two-year spending plan.
“It’s been a long haul,” said House Appropriations Chair Del. Barry Knight (R-Virginia Beach), acknowledging the difficulty in crafting a compromise.
In the end he said it was a budget both sides could embrace.
“What I think we have done is we have got a good bipartisan budget,” Knight told members of the House. “Some of the things we’ve talked about were introduced by Governor Northam, some were introduced on either side of the aisle. What we’ve tried to do is get the best budget we can with the resources we have for the state of Virginia.”
There were objections, and many references to missed opportunities.
Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath Co.) highlighted mental health services.
“I’m going to vote for this budget because of the money for school construction, the money for employee pay increases, law enforcement pay increases, additional investment in higher education,” Deeds said. “All of that is critical to our continued progress as a Commonwealth, but we had opportunities and we didn’t seize them.”
The plan includes substantial tax relief, increasing the standard deduction, eliminating the state share of the grocery tax and providing tax rebates of $250 for individuals and $500 for families.
But the compromise did not include the gas tax holiday that Gov. Youngkin proposed.
Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg) said Virginians need relief.
“I wish we could do more, and I wish we were doing more with this budget to help those families make ends meet right now,” Obenshain said.
Most members of the House and Senate voted for the compromise, and some urged the governor to accept it as well.
“I hope that we will not have to go through more politics, more amendments even a potential veto,” said Del. Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke). “Let’s just sign the budget and move on, Mr. Speaker.”
Once the budget bills are transmitted to the Governor, he will have seven days to offer any amendments. And lawmakers have until the end of the month to finalize the spending plan.
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