Governor Ralph Northam presented his 2022-2024 budget proposal to the money committees of the Virginia General Assembly and the incoming administration on Thursday. Several elements of Northam’s proposal, including tax cuts, were inspired by Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin’s policy. Northam said he’s leaving Virginia in good financial conditions.

“And today I present to you my last budget. I’m biased, but I also think it’s our best one yet,” Northam said according to his prepared remarks. “That’s because Virginia’s economy is doing very well. State revenues are at record investments, while also putting money back into the pockets of the hardest working Virginians. We need to be clear about how this has happened. It is because over these four years, we have consistently taken a prudent, cautious approach to budgeting.”

In his speech, Northam highlighted proposals to spend on education, law enforcement, the environment, economic development, and gun safety. He also touted tax cuts and saving some of Virginia’s share of the American Rescue Plan Act for a rainy day.

He acknowledged Republican plans to cut taxes.

“Now, let’s be straight with each other. We know that Virginia is going to cut taxes. I want to make sure that happens in the right way. Every day, I get an email with the previous day’s numbers. Consistently, somewhere relief needs to be focused on those who need it most—workers who have lower incomes, workers who have struggled in this pandemic. Workers who need it, not just those who want it,” Northam said. “My plan focuses tax relief in the right way, helping keep a few more dollars in the pockets of working families.”

Northam touted Virginia’s ranking as CNBC’s number one state for business and strong economic development track record.

“They happen because we have put the pieces in place to make them happen. Our inclusive, commonsense policies have encouraged business investment. Being named best state for business is a testament to our workforce, our education system, our commitment to diversity, and our strong business climate. And it shows that when you treat people right, good things.  Because of this investment, Mr. Youngkin, you will one day find yourself in a rural community to cut the ribbon on a megasite during your term,” he said. “And because of this, I also expect to see Virginia as the best state for business for the fourth year in a row.”

Senate Minority Leader Thomas Norment (R-James City) responded in a press release.

“By having the introduced budget emulate several of Governor-elect Youngkin’s key priorities, Governor Northam has acknowledged the decisive outcome of the November elections and the impending change in Virginia’s government. Over the last several weeks, Governor Northam previewed almost all of the priorities he highlighted in his remarks today. It is impossible not to notice that from tax relief to broadband expansion, many of the budgetary priorities he touted were first championed by Senate Republicans. Rather than concentrate on what might be seen as acquiescence on his part, I find it encouraging that our outgoing governor now embraces some of the long-standing policy positions of Senate Republicans.”

Northam’s proposal will be amended by legislators and the incoming governor. Many elements are likely to be retained, but funding amounts may change.

Norment warned of a long budgeting process that awaits the General Assembly in the beginning of 2022.

“There are consequential details integral to crafting a budget that addresses our commonwealth’s needs and positions Virginia for lasting prosperity,” he said.

Incoming House Majority Leader Terry Kilgore (R-Wise) said in a press release, “While Governor Northam’s budget proposal isn’t perfect, it does adopt many of the ideas that Republicans in the House of Delegates have been championing for years. It includes, for instance, investment in K-12 schools, economic development, and universal broadband for Southwest Virginia — investments we can build on to strengthen our education system and create jobs in the region.”

He said, “It also includes important relief measures for those struggling under the financial weight of bad political decision-making. Republicans in the House of Delegates will work with Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin and our colleagues across the aisle to make certain Virginians come first.”

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Ralph Northam” by Ralph Northam.