RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s amendments to the state budget include proposals to expand the eligibility for lab-school funding, suspend the state’s gas tax for three months, prevent hundreds of incarcerated people from earning credits to reduce their sentences and more.
The Virginia General Assembly approved the two-year budget plan on June 1, but it was subject to proposed changes and vetoes by the governor. On Wednesday, June 15, Youngkin aides laid out the budget amendments put forward for consideration in a call with reporters.
Youngkin has proposed 38 total amendments to the biennial budget that takes effect July 1, the aides said. The governor did not veto any part of the budget approved by lawmakers.
“Thank you for sending me a budget that offers almost $4 billion in tax relief at a time when Virginians are in need of it most,” Youngkin wrote in an introduction to his budget amendments.
Efforts to pass a gas tax holiday failed in the legislature, but Youngkin revived his push in a budget amendment. An aide said the suspension of the state’s gas tax of 26 cents a gallon would go into effect July 1 until Sept. 30 if approved by lawmakers.
The governor also proposed a restriction on using taxpayer funding in the biennial budget for abortion services unless it is required by federal law, a move criticized by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia Executive Director Jamie Lockhart.
“This amendment will disproportionately impact people of color who will be forced to carry pregnancies that will result in a stillbirth or in the birth of a baby incompatible with life,” Lockhart said in a statement. “If this funding is cut, low-income Virginians will be the ones having to go without access to the life-saving health care they need.”
Youngkin did not propose incentives to revive the effort to bring the Washington Commanders new stadium to Northern Virginia, which appears dead after lawmakers decided to pull the legislation from consideration.
One amendment from Youngkin would keep 560 incarcerated individuals from being eligible to take advantage of Virginia’s new earned sentence credit program, one aide said on the call.
The new law, which was signed by former Gov. Ralph Northam and goes into effect in July, creates a four-level earned credit system that allows people to reduce their sentences up to 15 days for every 30 days served.
“Language amendment will also create a state-level felony for demonstrating outside of a home of justices, including Supreme Court justices with the intent to intimidate,” one aide said on the call, later adding that it includes justices on the U.S. Supreme Court and Virginia Supreme Court.
The deal passed by the General Assembly includes $4 billion in tax cuts over three years. There are one-time tax rebates of $250 for individual filers and $500 for families this year in the budget and public school teachers and state workers will see 10% raises over two years, including a $1,000 bonus in the first year.
Youngkin amended the budget to also give teachers at Governor’s Schools and regional learning specialists the bonuses, with aides saying they were “left out” of the approved plan.
The aides said the amendments from Youngkin also put aside more funding for Virginia’s historically Black colleges and universities.
The budget approved by the General Assembly has $100 million for lab school funding for public, four-year universities in Virginia. Youngkin amended the budget to expand access to allow private universities and community colleges to use the funding and run lab schools, the aides said.
Another amendment from Youngkin calls on universities and colleges to sign off on a statement committing to create “a culture of free speech” on campuses.
State lawmakers are expected to return to the Capitol on Friday, June 17 to take up Youngkin’s amendments.
“I hope that these amendments will be acceptable to Republicans and Democrats, Delegates and Senators, so that the budget can be reenrolled without returning to my desk,” Youngkin continued in his opening statement.