RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A group of Virginia parents and organizations are advocating for lawmakers to prioritize parents ahead of state budget negotiations.
The group is joined by Voices for Virginia’s Children organization and the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis. Members said that they’ve had conversations with state lawmakers during the general session and are hoping that they’ll step up for parents when drafting a state budget for 2022.
One of the group’s top priorities is a refundable state-earned income tax credit.
Tyran Green is a single mother and guardian for several children and lives in the Portsmouth area.
“If I was struggling before the pandemic, now I’m drowning,” Green said. “The bills piled up. I couldn’t even concern myself with it. So when the earned income tax credit was finally received, it was like Christmas in July.”
The group is also hoping for a one-time tax rebate targeted at parents and full funding for K-12 public schools. State Sen. Jennifer McClellan previously emphasized the need.
“As a Richmond Public Schools parent, I will be working to ensure our budget funds our K-12 needs; investing in school construction and providing resources to schools to address the impacts of COVID and mental health,” McClellan said.
Green said parents like her are struggling to make ends meet.
“I’m feeling like economic disparity is a disease, and I caught it,” Green said.
Emily Smarte is a Waynesboro resident and a single mother with a five-year-old child.
“It is very hard to keep up with the inflation cost and the rising cost of living,” Smarte said. “Even when you are working hard and earning raises, you still can’t keep up.”
Emily Griffey is the Chief Policy Officer at Voices for Virginia’s Children.
“If Virginia lawmakers prioritize parents, they will send a message that Virginia is for families and deliver real economic stability from our state’s surplus,” Griffey said.
In response to the parents’ concerns, Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s spokesperson Macaulay Porter said, “There are experienced legislators on both sides working through this and the governor’s expectation is that he is going to get a budget quickly because that’s what Virginians deserve. Next week is going to be a busy week, it’s time for us to provide tax relief and move forward with the shared priorities of investing in education, law enforcement, and the mental health system.”
Last month the general assembly did not pass a budget for the year. Youngkin called on lawmakers to wrap up the unfinished work by Monday, April 4.
Until then, parents want to send a message.
“These are the very basic needs of your constituents that are not being met,” Smarte said. “And I would ask that our state representatives really prioritize those things.
WFXR’s sister station, WRIC, was previously told by Youngkin that he is expecting a budget to be passed by the house and senate. The governor’s proposed tax cuts have been a hurdle. It’s unclear whether there will be a solution on Monday.