The state budget finally has landed on Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s desk.
Youngkin now has seven days to propose amendments or vetoes to the two budget bills, one for changes to the spending plan for the current fiscal year that ends June 30, and the other for a new, $165 billion two-year budget.
Press Secretary Macaulay Porter confirmed on Thursday that “the governor’s office has now received the budget” and that he would propose changes “within the seven-day constitutional limit.”
That sets up a likely showdown with the General Assembly at the end of next week, with the earliest date for the legislature to reconvene in special session on Friday, June 17.
House Appropriations Chair Barry Knight, R-Virginia Beach, who negotiated the budget compromise with Senate Finance Chair Janet Howell, D-Fairfax, over the past three months, said he has not heard an official date for the assembly to return to Richmond to act on the budget.
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However, Knight added, “If I was a betting man, I would say the 17th.”
The current two-year budget will expire at the end of June 30.
The two proposed budgets together would reduce taxes by $4 billion, taking advantage of more than $14 billion in additional revenues over three years.
Youngkin may want more.
The Washington Post reported this week that during a Monday appearance in Bristol, Youngkin said: “I’m not done on the gas tax, folks. I’m not done.”
The first-year governor proposed about $5.5 billion in tax cuts, including a three-month suspension of the state gasoline tax that the Senate rejected entirely and the full repeal of the 2.5% sales tax on groceries, which the budget deal eliminates partially, while keeping the 1% local option tax that goes directly to local governments.
It increases the standard deduction on income taxes by almost 80% and provides tax rebates of $250 to individuals and families, but not as much as Youngkin had sought.
The proposed budgets also include a 10% raise over two years for state employees, teachers, college faculty and state supported local employees, as well as a one-time $1,000 bonus on Dec. 1. It also includes targeted pay increases for state police, sheriff’s deputies, correctional officers, and direct care staff at state behavioral health facilities, as well as additional money for localities with police departments.
The budgets, which the House of Delegates and Senate approved on June 1, also include spending increases on K-12 public education, financial aid and “tuition moderation” for colleges and universities, and reimbursements for health and personal care services provided to the elderly, poor and disabled under the state Medicaid program.
The spending plans include an additional $22.5 million per year to pay for school resource officer incentive grants, an issue of renewed interest for some lawmakers following the school shootings in Uvalde, Texas.
The budgets also propose a new approach for the state to spend $1.25 billion to help local school divisions replace or repair outdated public school buildings, which legislators estimate would leverage more than $3.2 billion for school modernization through low-interest loans and grants.
The two-year budget includes $100 million for one of Youngkin’s top political priorities, the creation of lab schools by colleges and universities to work with local school divisions on alternative settings to traditional K-12 public education.
Youngkin and House Republicans initially sought $150 million for lab schools.
Locally, the budgets include up to $470 million in state funds to widen Interstate 64 on a 29-mile stretch between Bottoms Bridge in New Kent County and Lightfoot in James City County to provide at least three lanes in each direction between Richmond and Hampton Roads.