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Youngkin budget proposal: another $1 billion in business, income tax cuts

The proposals are largely focused on education, behavioral health, economic and workforce development, public safety and the environment. Tax cuts are included, too.

NORFOLK, Va. — Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin unveiled his proposed budget amendments to state lawmakers Thursday morning, a laundry list of priorities that could be added to the 2022-24 budget.

The Republican governor's proposals are largely focused on education, behavioral health, economic and workforce development, public safety and the environment. 

The amendments will also include an additional $1 billion in tax relief for Virginians, on top of the $4 billion that made it into the original budget that Youngkin signed earlier this year.

RELATED | Gov. Youngkin ceremonially signs Virginia state budget

Economic, workforce development programs a high priority

Youngkin has proposed $450 million for business-ready sites, a program to identify and assess the readiness of potential industrial sites across the Commonwealth.

The proposed amendments include $10 million for Virginia Power Innovation Fund -- funding research and innovations in nuclear energy, hydrogen, battery storage, carbon capture and other technologies -- and $35 million for the GO Virginia program to expand worker development.

Youngkin is advocating for $21 million for Virginia's community college system, which will support career placement centers and specialists, as well as accelerator programs for local high schools to expand the attainment of industry-recognized credentials.

Other proposals include an additional $5 million for the Virginia Talent + Opportunity Partnership, increased funding for the Virginia G3 and Fast Forward programs and funding to target agricultural technology through recruitment and incentives.

Youngkin addresses learning loss with education funding

Part of Youngkin's proposal is an additional $427.7 million in funding for K-12 education in Virginia. This will include expanding reading specialists to 4th and 5th grade and math specialists for K-8, with a focus on the lowest-performing schools.

Youngkin will also propose $15 million for laboratory schools and more funding for retention and performance bonuses for teachers.

Youngkin's proposals aim to fulfill his education plan announced in October following the release of a national report that showed learning setbacks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

RELATED | Youngkin unveils education plan after 'national report card' shows learning loss during pandemic

When asked about the proposal for specialists, Youngkin told 13News Now it would be for students in public schools.

Funding for law enforcement programs to tackle crime

One of Youngkin's amendments includes funding for Operation Bold Blue Line, an initiative announced in October to reduce crime across the Commonwealth.

The funding would include $30 million to recruit new law enforcement officers to Virginia and additional grant funding for local commonwealth's attorneys who are "tough on crime" and police departments.

RELATED | Gov. Youngkin shares plans to recruit officers, raise pay, invest in community partnerships to cut back on violent crime

As cities in Hampton Roads, especially Norfolk, work to recruit more officers to fight the shortage in law enforcement, Youngkin hopes the funding brings more than just a few new recruits to the Commonwealth. 

"We want to recruit 2,000 new law enforcement heroes to come serve Virginians and this is a top priority,” Youngkin said. “We also increased salaries for law enforcement and we're going to staff in even more positions to relieve some of the burdens that law enforcement has been taking from the behavioral health system."

Expanded behavioral health programs

Youngkin is also proposing $230 million in behavioral health programs, including $20 million to fund mobile crisis teams, $58 million to increase Crisis Receiving Centers and Crisis Stabilization Units and $15 million to expand mental health programs in schools.

The governor noted that much of the spending's focus is to relieve the burden on law enforcement, thereby reducing the criminalization of mental health.

Youngkin unveiled his behavioral health plan, dubbed “Right Help, Right Now," on Wednesday, saying the current system is being overwhelmed and failing to meet the needs of Virginians.

"We incorporated best-in-class models of behavioral health from across the country," Youngkin wrote in a news release. "This is a top priority for my administration, and we will not stop until we have a system that delivers the 'Right Help, Right Now' to the people who need it most.”

Additional tax cuts for Virginians

Youngkin's proposals also include an increased standard deduction, eliminating taxes on military and veteran retirement pay and a quarter-point reduction on individual income tax rates. The individual income tax reduction will add up to $700 million in cuts.

For businesses, Youngkin will propose dropping the corporate income tax from 6% to 5% and implementing a 10% Qualified Business Income Deduction, which will account for $450 million of tax relief.

Youngkin said this goes along with his plans he’s been setting all year long with putting money back into Virginian’s pockets. 

"We want to allow [individuals] to keep more of their hard-earned money,” Youngkin said. “In particular, the standard deduction increase already in the budget will be increased with my amendments, and that will touch all Virginians, particularly those who need it the most." 

Other highlights

Youngkin's aides told reporters Wednesday evening that the budget would provide a "historic" investment in conservation and preservation, particularly $685 million "all in" for coastal resiliency and the Chesapeake Bay.

Youngkin's aides also explained that the budget would provide support to teachers, nurses and law enforcement, who the governor calls "the quiet heroes of Virginia," through different recruitment programs and expanded career pathways and bonuses.

Lawmakers react to budget proposal

Republican leaders in the Virginia House of Delegates praised Youngkin's proposed amendments, saying the economic provisions will be good for Virginians.

"I look forward to working with the Governor and his administration to reach our shared goals of more jobs, more opportunity, better education, safer communities, smarter government, and tax relief for overburdened families," Virginia House Speaker Todd Gilbert wrote in a statement. "We can and will get this done for all Virginians."

House Majority Leader Terry Kilgore said the proposals will make Virginia more competitive on the national and international stage, as well as give money back to Virginians during inflation.

Del. Barry Knight, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, said the proposals contain great ideas and represent a starting place for upcoming budget negotiations in the 2023 General Assembly session.

Virginia Senate Democratic leaders shared statements expressing concerns that the amendments don't go far enough in addressing the needs of Virginians while acknowledging the goal of making the state business-friendly.

Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw said the amendments "are looking for long term results with short term commitments."

"While this is a good starting point ahead of deliberations, Senate Democrats will continue to push the Governor to ensure we balance the budget, fund underfunded programs, and ensure every Virginian has the ability to thrive," Saslaw wrote. "I welcome Governor Youngkin’s acknowledgment of the issues and challenges facing everyday Virginians and look forward to working in a bipartisan manner to deliver for Virginians.”

Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Mamie Locke criticized the amendments, saying in her statement that the tax cuts will come at the expense of fully funding different programs.

"Today, instead of fully funding mental health services, public education institutions, addressing the workforce shortage, and making housing and higher education more affordable, the Governor is proposing a budget that gives major corporations and the top 1% massive tax cuts at the expense of those who need it most," Locke wrote.

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