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"Buckle up," Youngkin says in budget presentation

Governor Glenn Youngkin does not get to write the budget for Virginia. But he does get to kick off the process by making the first pass, sending his suggestion to members of the General Assembly.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin presents his budget proposal to the General Assembly money committees.
General Assembly livestream
Gov. Glenn Youngkin presents his budget proposal to the General Assembly money committees.

Outlining his proposal to the House and Senate money committees Thursday morning, the governor said he wants to invest $230 million to redesign behavioral health services and spend $1 billion to cut taxes for individuals and corporations. He proposed lowering the top income tax bracket, doubling the state’s standard deduction, new deductions for small businesses and lowering the corporate tax rate. "It's time for more jobs, more opportunity, better education, safer communities, a transformed behavioral health system and smarter government. And when we bring it all together, Virginia can accelerate on all fronts," he said.

Youngkin said analysts believe the state will follow the national economy into a short-lived recession next year. But he adds the state has never been in a better financial position. "And the reality is if we don’t take advantage of our current economic position to make ourselves more competitive, we will only fall behind these most competitive states." The state can afford both tax cuts and bigger investment in mental health and education services, he told lawmakers.

Read the full presentation

The governor also said he wants to invest in a group of people he calls "quiet heroes:" Teachers, nurses and law enforcement officials. "It's a package of $175 million for bonuses, reward incentives, expanded career pathways and recruitment for the people who serve our communities every day — the people who teach our children, the people who care for us when we're sick and the people who keep us safe during the Christmas season."

Youngkin said his plan for about a billion dollars worth of tax cuts is contingent on the state continuing to hit its revenue targets. "Buckle up because we are going to go fast. The revised budget that I am asking you to adopt is all about two things: going faster and getting more done." Younkgin, who never held elected office before becoming governor, said he was frustrated by the pace of government.

Reacting to the budget proposal, House Democratic Leader Don Scott criticized the cuts to taxes on business, saying Youngkin "seems to put corporate profits above all." Democratic Senator Mamie Locke said the governor’s plan would give tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations "at the expense of those who need it most."

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.
David Seidel is Radio IQ's News Director.