Youngkin has been criticized by some conservatives for not using state police to break up these protests, citing a lack of authority.
Youngkin and Hogan call on Justice Department to end protests at Justice’s home
The Legislature returns to Richmond on Friday to retake Youngkin’s proposed new amendments to the state’s two-year spending plan, which lawmakers passed this month after a significant delay as they wrangled Youngkin’s appeal to significant tax cuts.
Negotiators for the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate, unable to agree on a budget when the regular legislative session adjourned in mid-March, finally settled on a package of tax cuts and spending increases that was approved almost unanimously in both houses. .
Virginia lawmakers approve budget with tax cuts and spending increases
Under state law, the document is returned to the governor for a final round of editing. Despite lawmakers from both parties urging him not to alter the budget’s sweeping compromises, Youngkin prepared 38 new amendments. Three of them apply to the small budget “caboose” which settles the details for the current financial year; the rest is for the spending plan for the next two years, according to staffers who briefed reporters on the changes.
The new fiscal year begins July 1, putting pressure on lawmakers to reconcile Youngkin’s demands and have a budget in place by the end of this month.
Youngkin renews his longstanding call to suspend the state’s 26-cent tax on a gallon of gasoline, proposing to lift it July 1 through September 30, then cap future inflation adjustments at 2%. Gas prices are at record highs; a gallon of regular unleaded averaged $4,865 in Virginia on Wednesday, according to AAA.
The House included the cut in its original budget, but the Senate did not. Some lawmakers on both sides worry the cut could rob the state’s transportation needs of badly needed dollars, with no guarantee that retailers will pass the savings on to consumers. The cut was one of the few tax cuts that lawmakers did not include in the compromise budget they passed this month.
The General Assembly budget did not double the standard deduction for personal income tax filers, increasing it from $4,500 for individuals and $9,000 for married couples to $8,000 and $16,000, respectively. Youngkin does not dispute this.
Youngkin also does not challenge the General Assembly’s plan to reduce the state’s 1.5% food tax, but leaves the additional 1% levied by localities intact; the Governor had originally asked to eliminate the two.
Another item he refuses to pursue: a proposal that would have provided some $350 million in incentives for Washington commanders to build a stadium in Northern Virginia. Although Youngkin had previously been a defender, lawmakers withdrew their support for the team one by one following its many scandals.
State Senate leader backs down on bill to bring COs to Virginia
The problem appeared dead last week when defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio called the Jan. 6 insurrection “dust,” leading the team to issue a fine and General Assembly leaders to say that they would no longer consider supporting the stadium. Youngkin might have forced the issue, but doesn’t, according to his staff.
But Youngkin introduced a few new issues that are sure to provoke debate among lawmakers. An amendment would prohibit the use of public money to fund abortion services, which is prohibited by federal law. Virginia law allows the use of public funds in certain circumstances, such as a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, where the life or health of the mother is in danger, or in certain cases where the fetus is seriously abnormal.
Another amendment to the budget’s wording seeks to expand the definition of higher education institutions that can participate in Youngkin’s push for “lab schools” or partnerships with K-12 schools. Yet another would require public colleges and universities to sign a pledge and create a plan to ensure free speech on campus.
Youngkin is also proposing an amendment to limit the credits that can be earned by some inmates serving concurrent or consecutive sentences — a move intended to lessen the impact of a new law that would see some inmates get early release this year.