Tommy Wright: Let’s focus on the state budget

Published 12:00 pm Friday, May 17, 2024

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It wasn’t easy or pleasant, but Governor Youngkin and legislative Democrats have reached a compromise on the 2025-2026 biennial budget. The final bill looks like the middle ground that it is, with wins and losses for both sides.

The budget agreement is like the last conference report in most ways. It spends roughly the same amount of money, but with a few changes.

Bills vetoed by the Governor have their funding removed, and the sales tax hike has also been taken out.

Revenues from skill games and marijuana sales are removed, as are the connected expenses for oversight of both.

Language that would have required Virginia to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative as been removed, as has the effort to convert the Department of General Services into an independent agency.

Spending is paid for through increases in revenue above projected levels — $525 million and moving $516 million of capital projects from cash into bonds.

The bill also adds back $60 million for lab schools that had been cut in the conference report but adds a requirement that the schools demonstrate financial stability before they are approved in the future.

The bottom line, the bill reflects a compromise. Republicans and Democrats will find things to like and dislike. This budget isn’t perfect, but there are no tax increases, and it does NOT contain the back door electricity tax of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.


Democrats have cast the arrests and disruption of protests as the quashing of students’ free speech rights. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Students are free to protest on campus if they comply with the rules for public assembly, which in most cases bans the use of tents and other semi-permanent structures.

Even the most horrendous, nauseating speech is protected by the First Amendment, and protestors are free to express those ideas as much as they like, provided they stay within the rules governing campus gatherings.

Most campus protestors have refused to comply with those rules, setting up “encampments” and sometimes barricades. The purpose of these “liberated zones” is simple – students plan to hold the area for ransom. Until their demands are met, they will prevent others from using the space.

In Virginia, those actions have been limited to public green spaces. At Columbia and UCLA, entire buildings have been taken, and sections of campus closed to Jews. There is no place for this behavior in a civilized society and it will not be tolerated. Full stop.

Governor Youngkin made this clear, and our local law enforcement officers have handled these protests with professionalism. Virginia’s colleges are not day care centers. These students are adults. They know the rules, they violated the rules, and now they’re experiencing the consequences of their actions.

Del. Tommy Wright can be reached via email at or (804) 698-1061.