RICHMOND, Virginia – The House of Delegates and the Senate have passed their separate budget proposals for Fiscal Year 2022 and 2023. Both chambers debated floor amendments to the bills on Thursday before passing them, but the final versions are broadly similar to the proposals announced earlier this week. Each chamber’s proposal is based on former Governor Ralph Northam’s budget proposal, but the money committees made significant amendments before sending them to be passed out of the House and Senate. The Senate bill contains fewer tax cuts than the House bill, allowing for more spending, while the House bill is closer to the tax policy Governor Glenn Youngkin has called for. The two chambers now enter a process of working to a compromise.
Senate Finance Chair Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) told the Senate that the proposal fulfilled promises made amid spending cuts during earlier hard times.
“In this budget we’ve done that, by making significant investments in education, natural resources, public safety, and human services. We’re also chipping away a funding cap on support positions for K-12 education over both years of the biennium, embracing increased teacher and state employee pay, and adding to those compensation increases a one-time bonuses for teachers and state employees,” Howell said.
Freshman Delegate A.C. Cordoza (R-Hampton) said in a Thursday speech in the House of Delegates that the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus (VLBC) wouldn’t allow him to join due to political differences, but VLBC Chair Lamont Bagby (D-Henrico) told The Virginia Star that it was due to concern over Cordoza’s motives.
“When I came to this assembly, I expected to be welcomed with open arms by my brothers and sisters in the Legislative Black Caucus. Instead, I was rejected by a vote. While I’m sure a few of my brothers and sisters voted for me to join them, the majority did not,” Cordoza said in his speech. “This was disheartening but not shocking. The questionnaire for entry had little to do with being black, and had more to do with being leftist.”
RICHMOND, Virginia – The Republican-controlled House of Delegates passed two bills addressing the minimum wage, including a repeal of increases passed by Democrats in previous sessions. Delegate Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) and Delegate Sally Hudson (D-Charlottesville) debated about the need for minimum wage increases on the House floor Monday.
“I have it on good theological guidance that nothing in this bill is going to cause you to be cast into eternal darkness and gnashing of teeth,” Freitas said, defending his HB 320 against a claim that eliminating minimum wage increases harms “the least among us,” a reference to Jesus’ teaching in the Bible.
GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin crept past Democrat Terry McAuliffe in polling averages on Friday, thanks to a Fox poll that showed the Republican ahead by eight points, well outside the three point margin of error. A Washington Post poll released Friday showed a tighter race, with Youngkin trailing McAuliffe by one point. Youngkin now leads the Real Clear Politics polling average by a hair — 0.9 percentage points. That’s setting Virginians up for a nail-biter on Tuesday evening, but depending on how close the results are, the winner might not be clear for days, since mail-in-ballots can be counted if they’re received by noon on Friday.
“Youngkin has as good a shot as we’ve seen in a decade. Also, attorney general tends to run two-to-three points ahead of governor for us,” Prince William County GOP Vice-Chair Willie Deutsch said. “I’m confident we have a legit shot but I wouldn’t put much money on anyone.”
The Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) is on track to finish adjudicating outstanding unemployment insurance claims that were pending as of May 10th, Commissioner Ellen Hess said on Thursday. A settlement in a lawsuit against the VEC requires the backlog of 92,158 claims to be resolved by Labor Day.
“As of June 5, 66,966 claims remain in this effort,” Hess told the Commission on Unemployment Compensation, a joint commission with legislators from both chambers.
Virginia House Democrats have introduced two bills expanding healthcare coverage of abortions. HB 1922, introduced by Delegate Cia Price (D-Newport News) would expand Medicaid abortion coverage and require private employers who offer health coverage to cover abortions. HB 1896, introduced by Delegate Sally Hudson (D-Charlottesville), removes a Virginia prohibition of abortion coverage under Obamacare.