To the Constituents of the 19th House District:
As the 2023 General Assembly Session approaches its midway point, the House of Delegates is working around the clock to consider hundreds of bills that will impact Virginia. House Republicans are making significant progress on our promise to provide immediate tax relief, with several key pieces of legislation having passed this week that will reduce tax burdens and lower costs. Our students remain a top priority, and a recent miscalculation in school funding is in the process of being rectified by the General Assembly and Governor Youngkin.
Virginia is fortunate to be in a strong financial position, providing the opportunity to both maintain essential services and return money to taxpayers. Last week, every House Republican voted to pass legislation that provides more than $1 billion in tax relief over the next two years, in addition to raising the standard deduction. The reduction in individual income tax means 86 percent of taxpaying Virginians will enjoy the benefits of a lower top tax rate. As mentioned previously, not only will Virginians benefit greatly from these tax cuts, but the long-term effect on businesses will also be significant. These changes will generate economic development, bring in more talent, spur innovation, and encourage more people to establish their roots in Virginia for years to come. Ultimately, the legislation will ensure that Virginia is ready to compete in the marketplace of the future.
House Republicans are working to alleviate the effects of inflation by lowering costs on a variety of monthly expenses, advancing legislation to lower prescription costs by ensuring savings from prescription rebates are passed directly to consumers at the pharmacy counter. This proposal will make healthcare more affordable without adding unnecessary regulatory burdens or taxpayer expenses.
We are also focused on disconnecting Virginia from California’s onerous emission mandates. These policies, promoted by the previous administration, seek to require Virginians to purchase electric vehicles in the very near future, regardless of practicality. In many cases, electric vehicles are simply too expensive and impractical due to a lack of sufficient charging infrastructure, especially in rural Virginia. Passage of this bill ensures Virginians, rather than California bureaucrats, can make their own financial decisions.
Meanwhile, several pieces of legislation have been proposed by House Republicans aimed at reducing monthly electric bills without compromising the reliability of the electric grid. These bills are moving through the legislative process over the next few days and an update on their status will be provided next week.
Earlier this week, the Department of Education disclosed an error in its funding calculations to school divisions that resulted in a $200 million overestimation in the amount that schools expected to receive from the Commonwealth. Considering this error, I want to be very clear: No school divisions will see any budgetary cuts. In fact, Virginia’s financial health allows for the expansion of our investments in our schools while resolving the funding error through the budget process.
In the next fiscal year, schools will receive an additional $77.5 million, and the Governor has proposed an additional $441.0 million in his amendments. This equates to $240.3 million above the amount that was overestimated. In addition, since no payments were made because of the miscalculation, school systems do not need to return a single penny back to the state. House Republicans remain committed funding our schools to ensure students and teachers have adequate resources necessary to succeed.
As for my bills, I am pleased to report that HB1496, which restructures the Commonwealth Mass Transit Fund by implementing performance requirements for the Metro system in Northern Virginia and creating funding for commuter rail, passed out of the House 99-0. HB2391 adds the Secretary of Finance as a permanent member to Public Private Partnership Advisory Committee ensuring that PPP agreements are beneficial for the Commonwealth. It is currently on the House Floor and will be voted on this coming week. HB2514 returns the American Revolution 250 Commission to a legislative branch commission. This commission has been created to join in the nationwide celebration our country’s 250th anniversary in 2026. As Chairman of this statewide commission, I look forward to updating you on this effort and the opportunities it presents to recognize our local, statewide and national history.
If I can be of assistance to you or you would like to share your position on any of my legislation, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at DelTAustin@House.Virginia.gov and 804-698-1019.
Delegate Terry L. Austin
19th House District