BUDGET: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY
On Thursday, the House took up on the floor amendments to the Governor's budget. Most of these passed through as a block vote due to no objections, but Republicans introduced several floor amendments that would lead to greater fiscal responsibility, all of which the majority killed on the floor without allowing any debate. Here are just a few of the highlights from the House version of the budget that goes to the Senate to begin conference negotiations between both legislative bodies for a final Budget.
The Good – Saving for a Rainy Day
Increases the Rainy Day Fund, bringing it up to $2.2 billion
Continues the freeze on in-state tuition at Virginia’s colleges and universities
Increases the amount of aid available to students; reverses the Governor’s plan to end Tuition Assistance Grants
Balances the budget, which should protect Virginia’s AAA bond rating
The Bad – More Taxes
Increases state spending by over 18 percent
Contains significant tax increases and ends the fund that provided last year’s tax rebate
Includes the Governor’s proposal to raise the gas tax by 12 cents, as well as tobacco tax increases
In this article, you can see a summary of the many tax hikes that are in bills other than the Budget.
The Ugly - Your Hard-Earned Dollars Will Fund Their Hard-Left Agenda
Funds attorneys to handle lawsuits related to prosecution of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” cases
Adds funding for LGBTQ training for state employees
Expands the situations in which state funding may be used for abortions
I offered several amendments during our discussion of the Budget, including amendments to prohibit state funding for abortions, increase funding for positions in sheriffs’ offices statewide, and funding to staff and maintain a new State Park in Loudoun County. None of these were accepted.
Read The Family Foundation’s article, "House and Senate Budgets Fund Radical Agenda," which describes how your tax dollars will be used to fund some alarming goals. If you’d like to track changes to our budget, you can view all the House and Senate Budget amendments here.
VIRGINIA CLEAN ENERGY ACT WILL COST RESIDENTS
The House version of the Virginia Clean Energy Act (HB1526) is pending in the Senate, and the Senate version in the House. This bill mandates solar and wind energy and closure of some power sources, but leaves intact some gas, coal, and biomass-fired plants. According to an article published by the Thomas Jefferson Institute, the plans set out by the bill would “add $280 to $370 per year in cost to a Dominion Energy Virginia residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours per month.” And funds provided by some ratepayers will be used to pay off bills owed by other low-income customers. Click here to read the full article.
WARNING TO VIRGINIA BUSINESSES
Lawmakers seem to have little regard for the stellar environment Virginia has provided to business in recent years. Several pieces of legislation are threatening their very existence as described by the Virginia Chamber. In their February 21 Briefing, the Chamber outlines several bills that will put pressure on the bottom line of businesses in the Commonwealth.These include:
HB624: Mandates that every business in Virginia with 100 or more employees report annually to the Attorney General’s Office information on the wages paid to every employee along with gender, race, job title, and more.
HB395 and SB7: Doubles the minimum wage to $15 over several years, crippling employers in small business
HB825 and SB939: Allows collective bargaining for public employees, which could have a huge impact on taxpayers and localities
The Virginia Chamber publishes a full bill watchlist here. A Bacon's Rebellion article also describes how HB624 will hurt the climate for business in Virginia.
COST OF INFRASTRUCTURE MAY INCREASE DRASTICALLY
Several bills up for consideration would increase the cost of state and local construction projects by tens of millions of dollars. These bills promote union goals to establish prevailing wage requirements and replace the competitive bidding process for both state and local construction projects with government-mandated Project Labor Agreements (PLAs). Read more about these bills here and on how unions will benefit and taxpayers' costs will increase by up to 20% if these bills become law.
DEMOCRATS FLIP-FLOP ON REDISTRICTING
Towards the end of a long Thursday on the House Floor, Delegate Gilbert