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Political football over Virginia state budget will delay funding for local services, schools

Chris Graham
glenn youngkin
(© Eli Wilson – Shutterstock)

A headline in the Washington Post reported Wednesday that “Youngkin, Virginia lawmakers agree to seek new state budget, avert crisis.”

The headline writer obviously doesn’t understand the concept of crisis, or what all this means for local governments and local school boards, which means, ultimately, to you and me.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin, his feelings still hurt over the Democratic-majority General Assembly blocking his plans to gift a billionaire a brand-new arena in Northern Virginia, used his veto pen to force legislators to scrap the two-year budget that they’d spent the better part of two months working on, to basically start from scratch.

The new plan that Youngkin and legislative leaders announced on Wednesday has them working out the details of this new two-year state budget over the next four weeks, with the goal of having it ready for a vote on May 15.

All of the big players were talking nice as this was being announced to the public, at least.

“We came together over the last few days, worked well together in order to agree to this,” Youngkin told reporters at a press availability at the State Capitol, flanked by Democratic and Republican leaders from the General Assembly.

This is the same Youngkin who toured the state to talk to friendly Republican audiences to talk down what he called the “backward budget” that the General Assembly had sent him in March, which among other “backward” items includes 3 percent pay raises for teachers and state employees in each of the next two years, and substantial increases in funding for K-12 and state-supported colleges and universities.

What it didn’t include was Youngkin’s salvo to his upper-middle-class voter base – cuts to income-tax rates.

If anything about what has been proposed for the upcoming budget cycle is “backward,” it’s cutting income-tax rates, which will mainly impact higher wage earners, and balancing that with an increase in the state sales tax, which will disproportionately impact working- and middle-class Virginians.

This is what Youngkin is fighting for, and the impact will most be felt at the local level – by the people responsible for running local schools and little things like police, fire, rescue, water and sewer, those insignificant things.

Local governments and local school boards have to have their budgets in place by the start of the July 1 fiscal year just like the state does.

Not knowing the status of the chunks of money that come from the state and federal government, which you might remember, the federal government hasn’t been able to come to terms on a budget, because Republicans in Congress keep kicking that can down the road, kind of make it hard for your local elected officials to be able to finish that work.

It’s political football to people like Glenn Youngkin; it’s real life if you’ve got a kid in school, if you ever need to call 911, if your water cuts off.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].