Youngkin pushes $1 billion more in tax relief in address to lawmakers
The General Assembly returns to Richmond on Wednesday to kick off a 46-day session that will feature spirited battles over issues ranging from…
Gov. Glenn Youngkin used his annual state of the state speech Wednesday to push back against Democrats’ resistance to his proposed $1 billion in additional tax relief and his call for new limits on abortion.
And, raising a new concern, he called on the General Assembly to bar Chinese Communist Party-affiliated enterprises from buying Virginia farmland.
After the speech, Youngkin, an economic development enthusiast, said Virginia passed on a proposed Ford plant that would have incorporated Chinese battery technology and that he said would have acted as a front for China.
Physicians who violate the law could be charged with a Class 4 felony — punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
Virginia’s tax rates now are holding the state’s economy back, he said.
“The writing on the wall couldn’t be more simple — the people of Virginia are overtaxed,” he told a joint session of lawmakers in the House chamber on the first day of the 46-day session.
“It’s their money, not the government’s, and they are voting with their feet and their wallets.”
He said his $1 billion of tax cuts — a cut in the top individual income rate, an increase in the standard deduction, as well as business tax cuts — on top of last year’s $4 billion of cuts, would save a typical family more than $1,900.
Watch Gov. Glenn Youngkin's entire State of the Commonwealth address delivered Wednesday in Richmond.
Youngkin, kicking off his second year in office, will try to get measures passed in a divided legislature. Republicans hold a 52-48 edge in the House of Delegates. Democrats now hold a 22-18 edge in the state Senate after picking up a seat in Hampton Roads in a special election Tuesday night. All 140 legislative seats are up for election in November.
House Minority Leader Don Scott Jr., D-Portsmouth, said Youngkin’s proposed tax cuts are a nonstarter because of years of underfunding of key public services, from schools to public safety to mental health.
“I think the speech shows he is a very stubborn man,” Scott said, adding that the election Tuesday of Aaron Rouse, in a Hampton Roads state Senate district that Youngkin had carried strongly, shows that Virginians are rejecting his stance on abortion.
"I can count to 21 and 51," House Speaker Todd Gilbert said, referring to the numbers needed for majorities in the Senate and in the House.
Although Speaker of the House Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, has said the split between a Republican-led House and the Democratic state Senate means any substantive abortion legislation is unlikely in 2023, Youngkin called for action during his speech.
“When it comes to unborn children, we can come together,” he said. “We can choose life ... I have asked the General Assembly to protect life at 15 weeks,” he said, asserting that is “the point when a baby can feel pain.”
Youngkin called on legislators to put aside partisan differences, but as is usual for state of the commonwealth speeches, almost all his applause lines drew standing ovations only from his own party.
Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax, was unswayed by Youngkin’s call for bipartisan support for his program.
It's an idea that Glenn Youngkin initially embraced as a candidate for governor.
“The speech should have started ‘once upon a time,’ “ Saslaw said.
Youngkin also said that if it reaches his desk he would sign legislation making the sale of drugs that resulted in the death of a user felony homicide, as well as a measure to bar tech companies from selling data of minors.
For schools, he asked the General Assembly to support his request for expanding Virginia’s reading specialists to fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms, as well as for math specialists for struggling schools.
“We must teach our children all of our history, the good and the bad,” he said, touching on a subject where he and Democrats have been at loggerheads.
With his program on workforce development, his proposals to prepare business-ready sites for businesses moving to Virginia or expanding here, and his proposed tax cuts, Youngkin said “it’s time to press the accelerator. Virginians don’t have time for political posturing or foot dragging.
“They want results now. Not next year, but now.”
Dave Ress (804) 649-6948
@DaveRess1 on Twitter