‘No tax increase’ included in Va. budget deal, avoiding state government shutdown

This article appeared here first on WTOP.com

Budget negotiators in the Virginia General Assembly have reached a bipartisan deal, ending a lengthy standoff over the spending plan and avoiding a highly unusual state government shutdown.

Lawmakers will be back in Richmond on Monday to vote on the deal during a special legislative session.

“Folks pretty much in general got what they wanted,” said Del. Luke Torian, who chairs the Appropriations Committee in the House of Delegates. “We were able to come together, and I feel like everybody walked away being relatively pleased.”

Last month, Democrats who control the General Assembly reached a compromise with Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin to extend the timeline for negotiations over the budget.

Legislative leaders had indicated they were prepared to reject the substance of Youngkin’s proposed changes to the budget, leaving lawmakers facing the prospect of a government shutdown if they failed to strike a deal by the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.

Youngkin said that he would not sign a budget that included any tax increases.

“There is no tax increase in the budget,” Torian confirmed in an interview with WTOP.

Torian said the budget deal includes a number of “spending priorities that we felt were very important,” including an increase in K-12 education spending and pay for teachers and other public workers.

Specifically, Torian said the budget gives “state employees a 3% salary increase.”

Youngkin’s office released a statement, saying he’s “grateful for all the members of the General Assembly, as well as the leadership, and conferees for their ongoing efforts to deliver a budget.”

Democratic lawmakers spent weeks publicly at odds with Youngkin over the budget.

The governor embarked on a series of public events during which he blasted what he called the “backward budget,” criticizing lawmakers for including a sales tax expansion to digital products that he initially proposed at the start of the process in December but had paired with an income-tax cut that Democrats rejected.

Democrats criticized Youngkin for his tour but then launched one of their own to defend their budget plan.

With his budget amendments, the governor had proposed sticking with the tax policy status quo, which required him to also suggest spending cuts and other accounting maneuvers to account for the revenue that would be lost by eliminating the new digital sales tax.

Lawmakers in the House of Delegates used a procedural maneuver to vote down those amendments and then effectively scrap the budget bill so that negotiators could start over.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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