Virginia’s November elections won’t solely decide which political celebration controls state authorities, but additionally how state cash will get spent – and who it helps and hurts.
Simply earlier than the upcoming legislative session, when the candidates elected subsequent month will assume their places of work and perform the work of the folks, Gov. Glenn Youngkin will unveil a brand new two-year price range. The governor’s price range is traditionally an important start line for negotiations over how taxpayer cash will likely be spent within the coming years and what the state’s priorities will likely be.
If Republicans win majority management of the state Home and Senate in November, Virginians can pretty count on Youngkin’s price range priorities to be enforce. And based mostly on Youngkin’s previous price range proposals, we now have some perception into what these priorities may very well be.
A serious a part of Youngkin’s price range proposals final yr centered round tax cuts that offered the best profit for firms and the wealthiest Virginians.
“Particularly, the governor’s tax proposals … price $1 billion and a majority of the profit is reserved for worthwhile firms,” stated Ashley Kenneth, president and CEO of The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Evaluation, after Youngkin unveiled his proposals final December. “Moderately than making certain firms pay their justifiable share, the governor’s plan would tax a household’s earnings at a better charge than company income.”
Additional insights could also be gleaned from different price range suggestions that Youngkin tried to implement over his transient tenure as governor.
For instance, measures Republicans tried to implement by way of the earlier yr’s state price range embrace reducing the company tax charge and establishing a enterprise tax reduce that might primarily profit rich Virginians.
Virginia is at the moment working a price range surplus, however trusting the state’s fiscal good fortunes to proceed in perpetuity can be irresponsible. As an alternative of utilizing the excess to offset tax cuts for firms and the commonwealth’s highest earners, the Common Meeting may put money into making a extra balanced tax construction for Virginians of all earnings ranges and boosting the state’s financial outlook by enhancing schooling funding.
Over the summer season, a watchdog group for the Common Meeting released a report detailing how Virginia’s flawed schooling funding components leads to persistent underfunding of colleges all throughout the state. Republicans’ price range proposals over the previous couple of years have didn’t meaningfully put money into Virginia’s public schooling system, though this yr the Democratic majority within the state Senate succeeded in making certain that faculties throughout the state acquired among the funding and assist they so desperately want.
The price range settlement Democrats pushed for earlier this yr additionally helped cut back prices for Virginians insured underneath the Reasonably priced Care Act. The ultimate price range included practically $50 million for the state’s reinsurance program, which helped keep away from a projected 28.4% improve in particular person premium charges.
Democrats have indicated that retaining healthcare prices low will stay a precedence for them.
“We all know that the healthcare system wants work. Most individuals are one hospital invoice away from residing in poverty,” stated Home Democratic Chief Don Scott.
Offering funding for the state’s reinsurance program helps “to make sure that the price of healthcare insurance coverage market premiums are lowered, ensuring that households have entry to care after they want it,” he continued.
Democrats have supported different measures that they’ll by no means be capable to implement if Republicans have majority management of 1 or each chambers after November.
One instance is Democratic Sen. Jennifer Boysko’s hire stabilization proposal, a measure she launched early this yr. If this legislation had handed, localities throughout the state would be capable to set up a cap on hire will increase that’s tied to regional adjustments within the Shopper Worth Index. At the moment, Virginia imposes no limits on how a lot a landlord can improve a tenant’s hire every year. In 2022, Virginia ranked because the fifth-highest within the nation for one-bedroom hire will increase.
Early this yr, Democrats additionally tried to enact paid household and medical depart within the commonwealth. Beneficiaries would have acquired 80% of their common weekly wage for as much as 12 weeks per yr. The measure handed the Democratic-majority Senate however was killed by Republicans within the Home of Delegates. Democrats are more likely to suggest the measure once more in 2024, but when the GOP controls both chamber of the Common Meeting subsequent yr, it should nearly definitely fail once more.