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  • Writer's pictureTerry Austin

2023 Special Session - Budget Update




Friends,


The General Assembly convened on Wednesday, September 7th to consider and adopt amendments to Virginia’s biennial budget. This budget is a compromise between the Republican majority House of Delegates and the Democrat majority Senate. It reflects the maximum amount of tax cuts we could achieve when negotiating with our counterparts on the other side of the aisle. Though the nature of compromise means the budget is not perfect, as Vice Chairman of Appropriations it is one that I support, in large part because of its fiscally responsible approach that focuses on one-time initiatives.


This includes substantial tax relief, investments in our schools, higher pay for our law enforcement, major investments in economic development and natural resources, and funding for mental health services. The budget also revives the annual sales tax holiday, set for the third weekend in October. Governor Youngkin has one week to sign, amend or veto the budget. Highlights are listed below.


Tax Relief


The budget builds upon last year’s $4 billion in tax relief with another $1 billion in which families are to receive up to $400 and individuals up to $200.


Increases the standard deduction in the 2024 tax year 2024 from $8,000 to $8,500 for single filers and $16,000 to $17,000 for married filers. Increases the business interest deduction from 30 percent to 50 percent.

Eliminates the age requirement for retired veterans to be tax exempt for $40,000 of their military retirement pay.

Education


$418 million will be disbursed to schools to address learning loss and to implement science-based reading programs proven to boost reading skills. These funds will allow divisions the flexibility to address their unique needs.


$150 million in state support for instructional and support personnel.


A 2% pay salary supplement for SOQ recognized positions to take effect on January 1, 2024 (in addition to the 5% supplement that went into effect July 1, 2023).


$20 million in additional funding for school security grants to ensure a safe learning environment for our children and educators.


$20 million for workforce training and credentialing programs, including FastForward.


Agriculture & Natural Resources


This budget includes the highest ever level of funding for Natural Resources, totaling an additional $671 million, including $644 million in Water Quality Improvement Fund (WQIF) deposits.


Fully funds the needs assessment for Agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs) at $207 million.



Commerce & Workforce Development


$200 million in new funding for business-ready site development, to increase Virginia’s ability to attract industry with pad-ready sites throughout the Commonwealth.


$10 million for the planning and design of an inland port in Southwest Virginia.


$4 million for the Virginia Power Innovation Fund to expand Virginia’s energy options and develop small-scale nuclear reactors.



Health & Human Resources


An additional $155 million to ensure that those who need help in an emergency get it. This includes:


An additional 500 DD waiver slots effective January 1, 2024, in addition to the 500 that became available July 1, 2023.


$58 million to expand Crisis Receiving Centers and Crisis Stabilization Units.


$34 million to expand Permanent Supportive Housing for the seriously mentally ill.


$20 million GF to expand mobile crisis teams and support hospital-based psychiatric alternatives.


$18 million to increase compensation for our Community Services Boards.


$11 million for school-based and children's mental health services.


$9.5 million. To address the critical nursing and behavioral health worker shortages.



Public Safety

$15 million for Operation Ceasefire.


$7.5 million for compensation adjustments for deputy sheriffs and regional jail officers to address compression issues.


$5 million to support law enforcement costs associated with court ordered transportation related to mental health issues.


Funding for State Police equipment upgrades and costs related to implementation of the Organized Retail Crime legislation that passed in the 2023 Session.


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