State lawmakers approve budget compromise

Published: Sep. 6, 2023 at 6:59 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - Six months after state lawmakers adjourned without a budget deal, they returned to Richmond to finish the job.

Wednesday afternoon, they approved amendments to the two-year spending plan, including additional funding for important programs and substantial tax relief.

As state lawmakers settled in for the special session, their desks carried a thousand-page budget bill and more than a few cups of coffee. This day was a long time coming.

“We need to do it on time when we’re in session,” said Sen. Mark Peake (R-Lynchburg).

“I have a baby who turned one on the day we were supposed to do this,” said Sen. David Suetterlein (R-Roanoke Co.). “He’s now 19 months old, so you see how much bigger he is. It shows how long we waited.”

Despite a lengthy standoff between House Republicans and Senate Democrats, members of both parties praised the compromise.

“I like the fact that a lot of money is going into mental health, and to education and to law enforcement,” Peake told WDBJ7. “I like the fact we are returning some money to the citizens.”

“We made significant investments in K-12 education and behavioral health,” said Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-Charlottesville). “And the tax relief that frankly is contained in the budget goes to a lot of the people that need relief.”

The package includes major funding for pay raises, public education and mental health. And the deal will provide close to a billion dollars in tax relief, including $200 rebate checks to individual taxpayers.

“This is a great day for Virginia,” said Del. Wendell Walker (R-Lynchburg).

“It’s been a long time coming, but for sure, we’ve got a great bipartisan compromise where we’re giving some tax relief, but also critical investments, especially in education,” said Del. Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke).

“We have a lot of the spending priorities that the Senate had, but also the Governor and the House of Delegates leaned in hard for a billion dollars in tax relief, and I think that’s very good for the taxpayers,” added Sen. Steve Newman (R-Bedford Co.).

Political considerations certainly contributed to the delay, as Democrats and Republicans sparred over competing priorities.

Judging from the reaction at this special session, lawmakers from both parties now believe they have something they can run on in November.