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Tax cuts and a balanced budget: it's now or never for Virginia lawmakers

Lawmakers are trying to balance the books before heading out of town Saturday.

Governor Glenn Youngkin was elected governor on a platform that included doubling the standard deduction; a tax reform that would be a significant tax cut for many middle-class Virginians. But what about people at the lower end of the economic ladder?

"I feel like a spider hanging from a thread whenever I think about my finances," says Josh Hayes, a student at Virginia Commonwealth University who now has to work 70 hours a week just to make ends meet.

"I grew up here. I've gone to college here. All of my connections are here," Hayes says. "But in order for me to flourish as a person I cannot stay. And I'm not the only young person who's on this path."

Doubling the standard deduction would not do much in his case, although lawmakers could move forward with the earned income tax credit to help people most in need. New polling from Freedom Virginia shows 65% of registered voters support prioritizing school construction and classroom spending instead of tax cuts. Betsy App is the data analyst with Change Research, which conducted the poll.

"At the root of Virginians concerns about money is inflation, inflation, inflation – 83% – so the overwhelming majority of respondents say that inflation and recent cost increases have impacted their daily life," App explains. "And lower-income households are feeling this the most."

Lawmakers plan to finish the budget this week, then head out of town this weekend.

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.