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Virginia lawmakers adjourn regular session with state budget unfinished

Published: Mar. 12, 2022 at 7:09 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Over the last two months lawmakers in Virginia’s General Assembly have put in hours of work, going through hundreds of bills, and passing new legislation but on its final day of session leaders were unable to pass the state’s budget for the next two years.

”We’re certainly disappointed,” Speaker of the House, Del. Todd Gilbert, said.

On a wintery last day, lawmakers spent the afternoon finalizing bills but house and senate negotiators were still at a standstill over a new state budget.

Del. Gilbert says the House was ready to go into overtime but the decision to leave without finalizing the budget came from the Senate

“We informed our senate colleagues we were ready to keep working and for whatever reason, they decided that they wanted to leave today,” Gilbert said. “So we will come back at a time to be determined to keep working on the budget and the people’s business.”

The House and Senate are split on how far to cut grocery tax, how far to go with tax rebates, whether to double the standard tax deduction, whether to stop a planned hike of a gas tax and much more.

“The Senate budget had a different approach on how the state invests in school infrastructure needs vs what the house proposed,” Del. Jeff Bourne of the 71st district, said. ”I know that there’s a difference of opinion on the standard deduction relief that is in each of the respective budgets.”

The Senate version of the budget would keep about $12.5 million for Richmond Public Schools under the at-risk program funding. The House budget would eliminate it to make way for charter schools.

“We have made significant progress this session, and we have more to do to ensure funding of these priorities in the budget process,” Sen. Jennifer McClellan, said in a press release. “As a Richmond Public Schools parent, I will be working to ensure our budget funds our K-12 needs, investing in school construction and providing resources to schools to address the impacts of COVID and mental health.”

After his first official General Assembly Session, Gov. Glenn Younkin says he’s proud of the progress both sides of the aisle have made but he will have to call for a special session to finish the job.

“We got to make some critically important investments in education, in law enforcement, and in behavioral health and so I believe this will get done,” Youngkin said. “There have been people working hard all session and they’ve come together in a number of things. We’re just going to keep working hard and I think we’ll get this done in the very near future.”

Youngkin said a special session date will be determined early next week.

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