To the Constituents of the 19th House District:
The General Assembly has concluded its eighth week of the 2022 Session. With adjournment scheduled for Saturday, March 12, the House of Delegates continues to consider Senate bills while House budget conferees are preparing to negotiate the final budget with our Senate counterparts. I am honored to have been one of the five conferees appointed by Speaker Gilbert and look forward to working towards a balanced budget that prioritizes common sense tax relief, improves our education system, supports law enforcement, and ensures adequate funding for our transportation systems.
As we look ahead to the final week of the 2022 Virginia General Assembly session, it is important to reflect on what has been accomplished. In the last several weeks, House Republicans have passed legislation to relieve our overall tax burden, decrease business regulations, and increase public education options. The House also passed bills that protect our Second Amendment rights, create an environment that teaches our entire history without blaming our students for the past, and protect the lives of babies who survive abortions from dying without care.
However, the reality of the current split majority General Assembly means that a number of these bills did not make it out of the Senate. While disappointing, it is also important to remember that there are hundreds of bills that do pass with bipartisan support. One particular area of agreement came to light when the Senate agreed to ban the discrimination in the admissions process at Virginia’s governor’s schools.
Two other specific achievements related to the economy and education include Governor Youngkin’s signing of HB971 and SB656. HB971 conforms Virginia’s tax code to the federal Internal Revenue Code in part to grant Virginia businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic $201 million in tax relief. This law expands and makes retroactive tax benefits related to Paycheck Protected Program (PPP) loans and Rebuild Virginia grants to ensure COVID-19 aid granted to businesses won’t be treated as taxable income. SB656 requires parents to be notified when students are assigned sexually explicit material and requires students to be assigned alternate material if parents register objections.
Virginia is constitutionally required to pass a balanced budget, and this will be the main focus of the final week of Session. While the Senate version does include some agreeable measures, it does not go far enough to include adequate relief for taxpayers who have had to deal with two years of COVID-related strife, as well as the current increase in inflation and energy costs. That being said, there is opportunity to find common ground when it comes to passing a taxpayer-friendly budget that meets Virginia’s most urgent needs, and I am optimistic that we will begin to see real progress on some of the session’s most important priorities. I share the governor’s desire to enact tax rebates and deductions, fund lab schools, substantially increase law enforcement compensation, and fund transportation to enable economic development.
I look forward to updating you on the forthcoming weeks of Session. As always, if my office can be of assistance to you and your family, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at DelTAustin@House.Virginia.gov.