VIRGINIA, USA — Author's note: The video above is on file from Dec. 8, 2021.
With less than a month left in office, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has made significant proposals for the upcoming two-year state budget.
Northam presented his ideas for the 2022-24 budget to Virginia General Assembly on Thursday morning, just 30 days before Republican Glenn Youngkin takes over on Jan. 15.
According to Northam's office, the proposal is the result of "record economic growth and fiscal responsibility," and will set the incoming Youngkin administration up for success.
Macaulay Porter, the press secretary for Youngkin, recently praised the Northam administration for laying the groundwork based on the issues Youngkin campaigned on.
Here are some highlights of what's been proposed:
Income tax cuts, removing the grocery tax
The budget proposal would make up to 15% of the federal earned income tax credit refundable for eligible families. According to Northam's office, it would reduce the amount that low- and middle-income people owe in taxes.
Northam wants to repeal the state's 1.5% grocery tax, something Gov.-elect Youngkin made a central part of his campaign. This wouldn't affect local revenues, though.
The budget called for one-time tax rebates for Virginians — $250 for individuals and $500 for married couples — and ending "accelerated sales tax" payments for retailers.
Pay raises for teachers, public safety officers, state workers
Northam proposed an increased compensation of 5% a year for Virginia teachers, for a cumulative increase of 10.25%.
Under the proposed budget, Virginia state troopers, correctional officers, deputy sheriffs and regional jail officers would also get raises.
Newly-sworn state troopers would get a 7.7% pay raise, the starting salary for new correction officers will increase by 25% and the average entry-level salary for deputy sheriffs and regional jail officials will increase by around 20%.
Also, all state employees would get a 10% pay increase over the next two years.
$297 million for HBCUs, $2 billion for K-12 schools
Northam called for a total of $297 million for Historically Black Colleges or Universities in the Commonwealth, including $20 million for Norfolk State University and Virginia State University over two years. The money would be used for capital improvements, student support and other needs.
Northam wants to raise the level of Virginia Tuition Assistance Grants for private school students to $5,000 per student over the next two years.
The budget would also expand the state's G3 program that provides tuition-free community college for low- and middle-income students who pursue jobs in high-demand fields.
The proposal also consists of $500 million in grants for K-12 school construction or renovation and an additional $268 million to support at-risk students.
Investing in the environment, outdoors
Northam wants $410 million for land and water conversation efforts. It would include a required deposit of $313 million to the Water Quality Improvement Fund plus a supplemental deposit of more than $26 million.
Tribal nations would get $12 million to conserve and expand their lands, and $10 million would go to preserve historic sites related to Black and Indigenous Virginians.
Richmond, Alexandria and Lynchburg would get millions to improve wastewater systems to keep wastewater out of rivers and streams. This would be funded with American Rescue Plan money.
The proposed budget also has $245 million for multi-use trails and state parks in Virginia.
$233 million of that would cover the expansion and improvements to existing trails, as well as support new and developing trails like the Fall Line Trail in Hanover, Shenandoah Trail and Eastern Shore Trail.
A further breakdown of Gov. Northam's budget proposal is available on his website.