RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia General Assembly negotiators reached a proposed deal on the state budget that includes $4 billion in tax cuts and 10% salary increases for school teachers and state employees.
The $4 billion in tax cuts, which will happen over three years, will bring one-time tax rebates of $250 for individual filers and $500 for families this year. Public school teachers and state workers will see 10% raises over two years, including a $1,000 bonus in the first year.
“Those of us who were doing negotiating all understood that our job is to do the best we can for the people of Virginia,” state Sen. George Barker (D-Fairfax), one of three lawmakers who took an active role during the budget talks, said in an interview Friday.
The proposed agreement includes a cut to Virginia’s grocery tax, but only the 1.5% that goes to the state and not the 1% earmarked for local governments. Gov. Glenn Youngkin called for eliminating the entire 2.5% tax on food and personal hygiene products, a budget plan that the Republican-controlled House approved.
In the end, the 1.5% cut that the Democratic-controlled state Senate agreed to made the final proposed compromise. The deal does not include a three-month suspension of Virginia’s state tax on gasoline, another proposal Youngkin championed.
Measures introduced during the special session that Youngkin called proposed to suspend the state’s gas tax of 26 cents a gallon from May 1 to July 31, but a Democratic-led Senate panel rejected the effort.
“We have some different political philosophies on certain different things, but we wanted to make sure that we were working together,” Barker told 8News. “Both sides gave a little here and a little there and so it was really an amicable negotiating process.”
The budget conferees in the House of Delegates and state Senate actively involved in the negotiations — Sen. Barker and the chairs of assembly’s appropriation committees — outlined the proposed compromise during a private briefing Thursday with two media outlets, the Washington Post and the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
House Appropriations Chairman Barry Knight (R-Virginia Beach) was not immediately available for an interview but confirmed the details of the deal to 8News’ Jackie DeFusco earlier on Friday. Barker then shared an outline of the compromise later in the day.
Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax) called the outlets’ stories “accurate reflections of the budget that will be publicly available as soon as it is edited — probably Sunday night.”
Sen. Howell denied multiple interview requests from 8News on the budget during the 2022 session, with her chief of staff, Karol Straub, emailing DeFusco on May 24 that Howell would not be “speaking with anyone about the budget until it is finalized and released.”
The other 11 budget negotiators have been briefed on the deal, 8News was told, but the lawmakers who will end up voting on the proposed agreement have not been briefed. Legislators and spokespeople for the party caucuses said that these meetings will be held Friday.
The legislature will meet in Richmond next week to vote on the pair of budget deals and other bills after wrapping up its 60-day regular session on March 12 without agreeing on a two-year state budget and before ironing out key differences in several pieces of legislation that were approved.
Lawmakers will vote on the budget for this fiscal year, which ends June 30, and the compromise on the budget for the 2023 and 2024 fiscal years.
Once a deal is approved, Youngkin will have a week to propose any amendments to the budgets or veto any of its provisions.
“I can confirm that the governor was briefed on the budget and he looks forward to seeing the final language but I’ll decline to comment further,” Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter wrote in an email.
This story is developing. Stay with 8News for updates.
8News reporter Jackie Defusco contributed to this report.