The Virginia General Assembly has officially reached a budget deal.
After a six month stalemate, which was brought on by fears over incumbents losing in their primaries should their constituents feel they were reaching too far across the aisle, Barry Knight, Janet Howell and George Barker released a statement Friday afternoon saying the deal was for all intents and purposes done.
The statement read:
We are pleased to announce that we have a budget deal between the House and Senate budget conferees. While the major components have been agreed to, our conferees and staff will be completing the final touches in the days to come.
The deal is one that provides Virginians with additional tax relief and unprecedented investments in education, natural resources, and behavioral health. It is a win-win for the citizens of Virginia.
It includes a one-time tax rebate of $200 for individuals and $400 for joint-filers, increases the standard deduction ($8,500 for single-filers and $17,000 for joint-filers), removes the age requirement for the military retiree subtraction, and reinstates the sales tax holiday. Taken together, these actions provide relief to low- and middle-income Virginia citizens and Virginia businesses.
We also prioritized investments in education at all levels to ensure that our students recover from pandemic learning loss and are workforce ready. In higher education, we are providing additional operating support to maintain college affordability and increased financial aid to ensure access is not limited due to family income.
We were able to negotiate these investments while maintaining an eye on Virginia’s continued budgetary integrity. Virginia remains in a strong fiscal position based on these actions, which will continue to protect our triple-AAA bond rating.
While the negotiations have been deliberate and extended, we are very pleased that the outcome is both fair and balanced toward the priorities of the House and Senate. In an era when partisanship often prevails, the negotiations were cordial and respectful.
We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our dedicated conferees and talented staff.
Now, localities can begin to plan their budgets, which have also been in limbo during the political game of chicken.
According to Delegate Rob Bloxom, who was a conferee for the Republicans, the Eastern Shore did fairly well with the final package. Included in the plan is $1 million for the completion of the Melfa airport hanger, all state employees and teachers received 2% raises and money to fix the roof of the Hare Valley Senior Center. Most of the budget amendments for the Eastern Shore remained in the final deal, including the Cost of Competing Funding, or COCA, for local public school teachers.