Virginia lawmakers pass long-awaited budget bill
RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The politically divided Virginia General Assembly approved the long-overdue budget legislation Wednesday.
Creigh Deeds, who is a member of the Finance and Appropriations Committee, says he's glad the state finally has a budget they can work with.
"I think holding out or at least taking our time to negotiate paid off," said Deeds.
The budget aims to both reduce taxes and boost spending on public education.
"We came out with more than $600 million in K-12 education," said Deeds.
The plan does the same for spending on mental health.
"Thirty million dollars is going to make a huge difference in the lives of many people that we are going to be able to get off the streets in various parts of Virginia and get them into permanent housing. It's going to make their lives better," said Deeds.
Lawmakers spent only a few hours in the Capitol, considering the compromise before overwhelming voting in favor of it.
"I will admit that it's not perfect. Nothing ever is. But it was worth the wait," said Deeds.
The proposal includes about $1 billion in tax reductions, mostly through one-time tax rebates of $200 for individuals and $400 for joint filers.
"The tax relief we provided frankly is to help the people who need it the most, and the permanent tax cuts to a large percent benefit people that we have already decided as a matter of policy ought to be here and out to benefit from our tax policy, including military retirees," said Deeds.
It also would increase the standard deduction, remove the age requirement for a military retiree tax benefit, and reinstate the popular back-to-school sales tax holiday.
It's now up to Governor Glenn Youngkin to sign the bill or seek amendments.
In a statement, Youngkin says, "There's more work to be done, but I applaud the General Assembly for their work today."
It's unclear exactly what he'll choose to do. Deeds says he'd be very surprised if he tried to make any changes.
"We held out for six months, and Democrats in the Senate are not simply not going to accept changes that bring us more in the way of permanent tax cuts. That will jeopardize our financial stability," said Deeds.
If he decides to seek changes, lawmakers must return to Richmond to consider them.