RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia lawmakers came back to Richmond to start a special session to wrap up unfinished work from the regular General Assembly session, including the state’s two-year budget and bills that remain in limbo.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin and state lawmakers acknowledged a special session would be needed after the legislature convened its 60-day regular session on March 12 without agreeing on a two-year spending plan and before ironing out key differences in several bills that passed.
After a little over an hour into Monday’s session, the Virginia House of Delegates and state Senate only agreed on a resolution on how the special session would move forward before recessing and sending lawmakers home for the day.
Democrats criticized Gov. Youngkin for introducing legislation to suspend Virginia’s gas tax for three months, which the governor called on legislators to pass during the special session.
“The Governor’s timing is completely outrageous. House Democrats came to town this morning ready to debate a plan to help Virginians directly, not out of state drivers,” House Democratic Leader Eileen Filler-Corn (Fairfax) said in a statement.
“The Governor could have acted in the Regular Session last month, he could have acted during Special Session today, but he failed to do so. I am baffled as to why he did not introduce this sooner.”
Youngkin’s proposal, which was introduced by Del. Tara Durant (R-Stafford) and state Sen. Steve Newman (R-Lynchburg), would suspend Virginia’s gas tax of 26.2 cents per gallon for three months.
“Virginians need tax relief and it’s time for the General Assembly to act on the multiple tax relief proposals,” Youngkin said in a statement.
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.
The status of the budget negotiations remain up in the air and it’s unclear how many days the special session could take. Meanwhile, each special session day is expected to cost the commonwealth over $40,000.
Including mileage reimbursement and per diem for session, the cost of a day of special session is $13,425 in the state Senate and a little over $30,000 in the House of Delegates, according to each of the chamber’s clerks.
These figures depend on the number of lawmakers in attendance. With six delegates not in attendance on Monday, the cost of the session was about $30,000, the House’s clerk told 8News.
Stay with 8News for updates.