House and Senate money committees release competing budget amendments

Published: Feb. 5, 2023 at 8:27 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - The money committees in the General Assembly released competing budget proposals Sunday.

Both include additional funding for pay raises, money to slow the increase in college tuition and major investments in the state’s behavioral health system.

But there are differences, as well, and perhaps the biggest involves tax relief.

As the House Appropriations Committee met to approve its amendments to the State Budget, Chairman Barry Knight (R-Virginia Beach) said the package would ensure a sound foundation for future growth, expand on the investments made during the General Assembly session and provide an additional $1 billion in tax relief.

“In concert with Governor Youngkin, we have worked to finish Governor Youngkin’s work of doubling the standard deduction, reducing the individual tax rate providing tax benefits for our veterans and teachers, and reducing tax burdens for small and large businesses alike,” Knight said.

But when members of the Senate Finance Committee met a few hours later, Co-Chair Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) noted the $4 billion in tax relief that lawmakers negotiated last year. And she said the state is still catching up on reductions that came during the great recession.

“Today, we put down a marker to do an additional $1 billion for K-12 education. I’ll repeat that: $1 billion for K-12 education to make sure our children are receiving the support they need academically and emotionally,” Howell said.

The budget amendments also include money for some projects and priorities with special significance for western Virginia.

The plan to transform Catawba Hospital would receive $14.7 million in the House budget proposal.

Both the House and Senate included $500,000 in funding for the Virginia Museum of Transportation, and the House version adds language directing the Secretary of Education to convene a workgroup to determine the feasibility of the museum becoming a state agency.

Both budgets include planning money for expansion of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute. And both include funding to accelerate improvements on Interstate 81.

The House and Senate will tweak their amendments, before they approve competing plans. Then a conference committee will try to craft a compromise.

The process usually goes down to the wire, with lawmakers scheduled to adjourn at the end of the month.