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Va. lawmakers reach compromise on state budget

The budget now heads to Gov. Youngkin
Published: Jun. 1, 2022 at 2:48 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 1, 2022 at 7:06 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - After months of deadlock and negotiations, Virginia lawmakers reached a compromise and passed a budget Wednesday that will now head to Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

The House voted 88-7 on their version of the budget bill, while members of the Senate voted 32-4 on their version.

The vote comes more than two months after state lawmakers left the regular session in March with no final decision on the budget.

During this special session, Delegate Barry Knight, a member of the budget conference committee, spoke about the work lawmakers on both sides of the aisle did to reach a final agreement.

“We might differ on our policy positions, but when it comes down to it, we share a mutual goal of developing the best budget for the Commonwealth and its citizens,” Knight said during the special session.

One of the highlights of the budget proposal includes $4 billion in tax relief over three years, which includes a one-time rebate of $250 for individuals or $500 for families and increasing the standard deduction to $8,000 for single filers and $16,000 for married filers.

In the tax relief package, Del. Knight says the tax relief packages will provide an average family of four $1,108.

“In this era of inflation, that relief will be welcomed by all,” Del. Knight said on the house floor.

Governor Glenn Youngkin’s proposed gas tax holiday is not part of this plan, but the state portion of the grocery tax would be repealed, which is 1.5 percent.

Over two years, state employees and teachers would also get a 10 percent raise.

“I think there’s comprehensive tax policy that we can continue to do better on. I think what we did is we helped our veterans with taxes, we helped our teachers with taxes, we helped our state employees with taxes,” said Delegate Don Scott, who represents the City of Portsmouth and was elected to be the next minority leader of the House on Wednesday.

“We’re happy with the standard deduction being at $8,000, but that helps all Virginians, and it helps low-income Virginians, a little bit higher income Virginians,” said Delegate Knight.

There is also an amendment in the budget to create a new misdemeanor for possessing marijuana in public.

According to the amendment, anyone who possesses more than four ounces, but less than a pound, of marijuana in public could be subject to a Class 3 misdemeanor.

This amendment comes after Virginia legislators legalized possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use.

The amendment in the budget has garnered different views from lawmakers, including Delegate Michael Mullin.

“Adding an additional criminal penalty for personal use possession of any amount of marijuana is putting us in the wrong direction,” he said on the House floor.

The budget proposal will head to Governor Glenn Youngkin, who is pleased to see this move forward.

“We still have work to do to review the entire budget because there’s 600 pages at the base and another 370 that came in the amendments, but the framework I’m really pleased with,” said Youngkin on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for Governor Glenn Youngkin tells NBC12 they expect the budget to be formally presented to Gov. Youngkin next week. At that time, Gov. Youngkin will have seven days to review and offer recommendations.

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