RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Gov. Glenn Youngkin has called state lawmakers back to Richmond on April 4 to wrap up the work that went unfinished when the General Assembly adjourned earlier this month, saying he expects a budget agreement by then.
The legislature convened its 60-day regular session on March 12 without agreeing on a two-year state budget and before ironing out key differences in several approved bills.
Billions in proposed tax cuts that Gov. Youngkin campaigned on, including doubling the state’s standard deduction and repealing the grocery tax, have been the main hurdle in negotiations over the spending plan.
Gov. Youngkin and legislators acknowledged a special session would be needed to finish this year’s work on the budget and to give the chambers enough time to reach compromises on bills. On Wednesday, Gov. Youngkin called a special session for April and urged lawmakers to finish their work.
“On Monday, April 4th, I really am expecting a budget to be passed by the House and Senate,” Youngkin told reporters outside the state Senate chambers on Wednesday. “It’s time. We’ve had 10 days since everyone adjourned. And as I’ve traveled around Virginia, I’ve heard over and over again that the cost of living and inflation is causing real challenges.”
In a push to bring the negotiations to the forefront, Youngkin launched a campaign-style ad to pitch the tax cuts he made a priority and put a little pressure on lawmakers to get deals done.
“We’re going into overtime in Virginia’s Capitol. And we’ve gotta make this last shot,” Youngkin says in the 30-second spot while passing a basketball around to people and before making a jump shot.
Virginia Democrats criticized Youngkin’s tactics on social media, with state Sen. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) asking for donations to fund a response to the governor that she ensured would come Thursday.
“This Governor thought he could just air some advertising against us and the Senate Dems would fold and give in to him. He was wrong. Tomorrow thanks to your help we will go up with our own ads in response! In terms he understands- that shot just got BLOCKED,” Sen. Lucas wrote on Twitter.
Budget negotiators in the Republican-controlled House of Delegates and Democratic-controlled Virginia Senate need to iron out the differences between the chamber’s opposing plans for tax cuts, which are nearly $3 billion apart.
The House approved a spending plan to fulfill Youngkin’s campaign promises. The chamber’s budget would double the state’s standard deduction, eliminate the 2.5% sales tax on groceries and personal hygiene products, suspend the 5-cent-per-gallon gas tax hike for a year and exempt $40,000 of military retirement benefits from income taxes.
The Senate backed cutting the grocery tax, but kept the 1% local option component of the sales tax, and agreed to give a tax exemption of military pensions, but not $40,000. The chamber wants to study whether to double the standard deduction and has pushed against putting a hold on the gasoline tax increase.
Stay with 8News for updates.