Tammy Mulchi: We should work to grow our economy

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, May 8, 2024

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Next week, we will return to the Capitol to consider a new budget. This was supposed to be worked out over the last several weeks. If you recall, legislative leaders and the governor decided it would be wiser and serve Virginia better to avoid a major fight over the budget when we were in Richmond at the April Reconvened Session, often called the Veto Session. The two sides agreed they would work to find common ground and return next week with a workable compromise on which the General Assembly could vote. Looking back over what did and did not happen during the session, this seemed like the correct action to take.

In my opinion, I believe that the Governor’s original budget was a prudent map of how to best serve the needs of Virginians. The budget that the Democrat majority in the General Assembly presented added some good things and some things that were unacceptable. Poorer counties clearly have unique needs from the state as a whole to operate our schools. At the same time, it made no sense to raise taxes while the state is flush with tax receipts. Governor Youngkin agreed with some of the General Assembly’s priorities but did not agree with the tax increases they included.

I believe that for a healthy state, we should make every effort to grow our economy. This will produce jobs that can provide for Virginia’s families. This growth will reduce the need for government services, resulting in keeping tax rates down. Low tax rates will, in turn, make our state more attractive for companies looking to expand or start here. The jobs that we want to attract are higher-paying jobs that require quality education and training. Therefore, a good program that prepares our citizens for those jobs is a good investment. Our citizens likewise want their families and businesses to be safe; this requires well-trained and adequately staffed law enforcement departments and prisons. These services are better paid for with a growing tax base rather than increasing tax rates. 

As with all negotiations, both sides must bend to make the process successful. The most recent tax revenue updates are significantly higher than they were earlier in the year. It appears that both sides believe that these new receipts will not create the need to raise taxes as the Democrat majority had proposed. Meanwhile, the Governor seems willing to allow some of the new expenditures that many Virginians consider important. 

As I write this, there has been no effort by the negotiators to keep legislators in the loop of what may or may not be included in that compromise. Hopefully, a recap will be available this week. It is poor policy when legislators have not had more than a few hours to consider how changes will affect our constituents. 

Since the session ended, I have had the opportunity to visit with a lot of people throughout the ninth district. I plan to continue that as I divide my time between work and family. It has meant a lot to me to be out in our community seeing all the great work being done in Southside Virginia. I couldn’t be prouder to call this area home.

I will update you soon on the budget and special session next week. Remember to always reach out if I can be of assistance. 

Tammy Mulchi serves as the District 9 state senator. She can be reached at senatormulchi@senate.virginia.gov or by calling 804-698-7509.