“Virginians are ready for the General Assembly to meet on the budget and deliver much-needed tax relief and investments in education, law enforcement and behavioral health for Virginians,” Governor Glenn Youngkin said. (R) in a written statement Monday. “I look forward to reviewing their budget proposal.”
Lawmakers kicked off the special session in April on his orders but quickly went home as there was no compromise to vote on. It’s always like that; however, budget negotiators were confident they would reach a deal before the two chambers vote next week.
“Please adjust your schedules and plan accordingly to be here in Richmond next week for this important work to resume,” Clerk G. Paul Nardo wrote in a letter to delegates and House staff. Senate Clerk Susan Clarke Schaar also confirmed the June 1 return.
Virginia budget negotiators signal they are close to reaching a deal
It is not uncommon for budget negotiations to drag on. The state needs a spending plan in place by the start of its new fiscal year on July 1 to avoid a government shutdown, a prospect neither side thinks is even a remote possibility.
The main obstacle to a budget deal has been sweeping tax cuts demanded by Youngkin and the Republican-led House, which have included doubling the standard state deduction, ending the 2.5% tax on groceries, waiving $40,000 in military pensions, suspending a gas tax increase for a year, and imposing a three-month gas tax holiday.
The Senate, under weak Democratic control, wanted to examine the entire tax system for a year before adjusting the standard deduction to ensure that future revenues are not unduly harmed, remove the 1.5% portion of the state grocery tax while allowing localities to levy the remaining 1% and maintain the same gas tax, arguing that oil companies are unlikely to pass the savings on to consumers.
Negotiators have said for some time that they are close to a deal, but have given no public indication as to whether they are leaning towards more tax cuts, more spending or somehow the sharing the difference.
“We’re close,” Senate Appropriations and Finance Committee Chairwoman Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax) said Monday. House Appropriations Committee Chairman Barry D. Knight (R-Virginia Beach) declined to comment.
Spending plans must be available online for lawmakers to review by 10 a.m. on May 30 to comply with General Assembly rules requiring lawmakers to have 24 hours to consider budget bills before voting.