Opinion — A Virginia budget that gives back

Published 12:11 pm Thursday, March 3, 2022

Humorist and social commentator Will Rogers joked that “Alexander Hamilton started the U.S. Treasury with nothing, and that was the closest our country has ever been to being even.”

There’s some truth in that, even at the state level.

Virginians work hard for what they earn, and we believe they should keep more of it.

That’s why the Republican House Majority passed a responsible, forward-looking state spending plan that puts more money back into the pockets of taxpayers while investing in some of the Commonwealth’s present and future needs.

Every Virginian is feeling the impacts of inflation, and at the state level, we believe we have an obligation to help where we can. The House budget for 2022 – 2024 includes $5.3 billion in tax relief measures to do just that. We’re giving individual filers a tax rebate of up to $300 and joint filers a rebate of up to $600. We’re eliminating the state grocery tax. We’re suspending gas tax hikes. And we’re doubling the standard income tax deduction.

Meanwhile, we’re making major investments in the future of the Commonwealth. With $17 billion in education spending, this is the biggest K-12 budget in Virginia history. It gives teachers a well-deserved pay-raise at 4% per year in the biennium, along with a 1% bonus each year. It also helps localities make major improvements to aging and crumbling schools by setting aside $2 billion for school construction grants. We’re also giving students new opportunities to learn by setting aside $150 million to develop laboratory schools with our colleges and universities, and we’re funding the Virginia literacy act.

It’s sometimes said that our state spending plan is a “moral document” – that it signifies where our priorities are as a people. If that’s true, we’re sending a clear message to law enforcement and corrections officers that we have their back. We’re increasing pay for the men and women who are holding that thin blue line, and we’re investing in a grant program in the “Operation Ceasefire” model that has been proven to decrease violence in our communities and keep our streets safe.

Home Sweet Home

This week our office received a warm visit from Phil Miskovic, Mayor of Crewe in Nottoway County. Mayor Miskovic was in Richmond for “Hokie Day” as he is a proud Virginia Tech alumnus. We appreciate his dedicated service to his community and encourage anyone from our district to stop by.

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