Lots of work left to do

Published 11:04 am Wednesday, February 20, 2019

It’s hard to believe the session is almost over, but let me say it has been an honor once again serving you in the House of Delegates. Even though it’s our last week we still have a lot to do in this final week. We have hundreds of bills to still vote on and send to the Governor’s desk plus we are making final adjustments to the budget.

There is good news to report. Not only will you be protected from the Democrats middle class tax increase thanks to Republicans in the House and Senate; but come October you will also receive a rebate check in the mail. This is in addition to any tax refund you will be receiving here in the next few months. Tax relief for the middle class was a major priority of House Republicans this year and I am proud that we were able to pass this legislation this year.

The legislation will provide $420 million to Virginia taxpayers later this year, in the form of tax rebates of $110 for individual filers and $220 for married couples. It raises the standard deduction by 50 percent beginning in tax year 2019, the first such change for individual filers since 1989. The bill also maintains the current rules for state and local taxes (SALT), and includes key provisions for job creating businesses.

In total, the legislation will guarantee at least $976 million in tax relief and ensure that all additional revenues from the permanent provisions of Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are placed in the state’s cash reserve fund. The legislation also conforms Virginia tax law to the federal law, ensuring Virginians will be able to file their state taxes without complications this May.

I am proud to have voted to support this legislation. You sent me to Richmond to fight for lower taxes and to put more money back in your pocket. It has been a very successful session in that regard.

This was also my first year serving as Chairman of the Militia, Police and Public Safety committee. This committee is vital to protecting your Second Amendment rights. I am proud to report the legislation that came before this committee, that would have infringed upon your rights was defeated by House Republicans.

I am proud of the work we were able to accomplish in this committee this year. And despite it being my first time serving as Chairman, we completed all of our work ahead of schedule!

Finally, the House and Senate have advanced similar budget proposals over the last week that work in tandem with the tax relief plan. The House budget eliminated all spending based on the tax increase proposed by Governor Northam. The House budget identified $120 million in health care savings and made a major commitment to reducing unfunded liabilities, eliminating over $700 million in spending over the next 25 years. The budget builds on our multi-year efforts to responsibly invest in a stronger economy, provide more funding and flexibility to local schools, and make college more affordable.

In K-12 education, the budget provides $155 million in increased funding, includes funding for a five percent teacher pay raise, and returns 45 percent of lottery money to local schools with no strings attached. School Safety has been a top priority for the House this year and the budget includes $12 million in school safety initiatives, including more funding for school security equipment, School Resource Officers, and other innovative solutions that will help keep our kids safe in schools.

The House and Senate will negotiate the final terms of the budget over the next few days. I look forward to supporting a final budget that is conservative and limits the size of Government.

My Legislative Aid, Nancy, and I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting with so many of you who have stopped by my Capitol office over the past week. This week we welcomed Chris Craft of Dundas, Nana-Atra Ofosa Braefso of South Hill, and David Paul Hopstick, III and Granny, Ann Hopstick of Amelia Court House. If you happen to be in the Richmond area during this year’s General Assembly session please stop in and say hello.

Del. Tommy Wright can be reached via email at DelTWright@house. virginia.gov or (804) 698-1061.