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Virginia lawmakers prevent budget veto, restart negotiations

Speaker of the House Don Scott Jr., D-Portsmouth, listens during a Reconvene Session on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 at the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Shaban Athuman, VPM News)
Speaker of the House Don Scott Jr., D-Portsmouth, listens during a Reconvene Session on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 at the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Shaban Athuman, VPM News)

The Virginia House of Delegates passed a motion Wednesday that puts the Legislature on a path to restart the budget process, following the possibility of a spending bill veto.

This story was reported and written by VPM News

Delegates approved a motion that deemed Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s 242 budget amendments “not  specific and severable.” The vote was 100–0.

House Speaker Don Scott told VPM News the motion looks “drastic,” but reflects an agreement on how to move forward.

“I'm not sure if we'll have ‘kumbaya’ on the final budget, but we have ‘kumbaya’ today on how we get on a path to a budget, and I think we'll be able to do that,” he said Wednesday.

Minority Leader Del. Todd Gilbert (R–Shenandoah) encouraged his members to vote for the motion.

“I'm going to encourage my members to support the motion, but it's not necessarily because of anything other than we have to find a clean way forward to dispatch this bill in order to do the things that inevitably I think are gonna have to be done,” he told the body.

The budget debate is likely to remain the same: the future of tax policy and its effects on how certain priorities are funded.

The exact mechanics of how the process will proceed are still to be decided, though the full General Assembly would need to be called into a special session to work on a revamped budget. The governor can call legislators to Richmond, or both chambers can vote for one to begin.

Scott said officials are aiming to complete a budget by mid-May, before state funding runs out on June 30. (Virginia’s fiscal year runs from July 1–June 30.)

As the General Assembly  entered the reconvene session on Wednesday to consider the governor’s legislative actions, tensions over the competing budget visions had been simmering for weeks.

In early March, the Legislature approved a budget that not only scrapped Youngkin’s proposed tax plan, but expanded it. The governor then went on a  campaign-style tour labeling that budget “backward,” and Democratic leadership went on its own tour to promote their plan.

After receiving a budget proposal from lawmakers in March,  Youngkin introduced 200-plus amendments in April —  eliminating tax increases and funding Democrats’ priorities at a lower level.

Lawmakers will also consider legislation the governor acted on: 116 bills that were amended and 153 that he vetoed.