Your Turn — Here’s what’s happening around the Commonwealth

Published 2:55 pm Friday, September 23, 2022

Governor Glenn Youngkin announced that total revenue collections in August for the Commonwealth’s general fund grew by 13% year-over-year unadjusted. Due to August’s additional deposit day which included payroll withholding taxes remitted by many of Virginia’s large employers, these totals exceeded forecasts. Adjusted for the additional day, revenues increased approximately 5.4 percent year-over-year.

For the month, payroll withholding increased by 19.8% (8.2% adjusted for the extra deposit day). Wage growth, the additional deposit day, and a strong labor market, drove growth in payroll withholding. There were 142,000 more Virginians employed in July 2022 than there were in July 2021, an increase of 3.5% year-over-year. Virginia, however, has yet to recover more than 113,000 jobs that were lost during the pandemic (now at 97.4% of pre-pandemic levels) while our key competitor states have all exceeded pre-pandemic employment levels. 

Tax rebates are coming 

The full August 2022 revenue report is available at https://www.finance.virginia.gov/key-

documents/master-reports-list/. This fall, approximately 3.2 million eligible taxpayers will receive one-time tax rebates of up to $250 if they filed individually, and up to $500 if they filed jointly. To be eligible, taxpayers must file by November 1, 2022 and have had a 2021 tax liability. Starting September 19, taxpayers can go to tax.virginia.gov/rebate and check their eligibility for this one- time tax rebate. We are processing the rebates “first in/first out.” Those who filed by July 1 should expect their rebate to arrive in late October. Those who file between July 1 and November 1 will receive their rebate within 4 months of their file date.

Taxpayers who received a state tax refund by direct deposit this year will likely receive their one-time tax rebate by direct deposit in the same bank account. All other eligible taxpayers will receive their rebate by paper check in the mail.

If a taxpayer owes money to Virginia Tax, or another state or local agency, the Commonwealth will use their tax rebate to satisfy that debt before sending the taxpayer the remainder of the rebate (along with contact information for the agency that was owed). In the event a taxpayer owes more than the amount of the one-time tax rebate, Virginia Tax will send the taxpayer a letter explaining the use of the rebate toward the debt as well as contact information for the agency that was owed.

New school standards

The Virginia Board of Education plans to finalize new history and social science standards in January after Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration raised concerns with what it said were several errors and content issues in a draft.

Education officials also proposed at last Wednesday’s work session to begin the public hearing process in October. Prior to the delay, public hearings and the final approval were expected in September and on Nov. 17, respectively.

The standards outline Virginia’s expectations for student learning in K-12 history and social science education and are assessed through the Standards of Learning tests. Virginia code requires the board to review the standards every seven years to update content and reflect current academic research.

Education officials also proposed splitting up information about courses after concerns were raised that the standards were difficult to read. The process of reviewing the history and social science standards began nearly two years ago and included repeated meetings by the Board of Education and a committee of experts, as well as public input from over 5,000 commenters.

The standards could go into effect as early as 2024.

Health department receives funding for lead projects

The Virginia Health Department will receive $46 million in federal funding to replace lead water lines throughout the state, to fight contamination in the commonwealth’s drinking water. The funding, which came as part of the Infrastructure Act passed last year, goes to the state Office of

Drinking Water, which oversees health standards for the patchwork of local systems that provide water to Virginia households.

According to the World Health Organization, there is no safe level of lead in drinking water, and even trace amounts can have serious consequences, especially with long exposure. Bottled water is required to be below 5 parts per billion, while municipal water systems can have up to 15 ppb before they’re compelled by federal law to act.

In Virginia, dozens of counties have water systems with lead above the 5-ppb threshold, with the largest number of affected residents living in western Virginia. In Bedford County alone, more than 30,000 residents — over a third of the population — were drinking potentially contaminated water. The $46 million will be distributed to local governments through grants from the Office of Drinking Water. Recipients of those grants have not yet been announced.

Del. C. Matthew Fariss represents Buckingham in the Virginia House of Delegates. His email address is DelMFariss@house.virginia.gov.