Your turn — A billion dollars back to taxpayers

Published 12:15 pm Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Governor Youngkin had the opportunity to adjust the budget that we are currently in and that will be in effect through June 30, 2024. Because he had just been sworn in last year, he had limited opportunities last year. Last Thursday, he presented those changes to the General Assembly and the public. Below are some of the items on which he focused.

TAX CUTS

Last year, we raised the standard deduction for every taxpayer. This year he has proposed a greater deduction to double what it was before he took office. In addition, he has proposed lowering the tax rate by almost 8% for individuals. He wants to extend the exemption for the first $40,000 to all those military retirees to keep them in Virginia.

He has proposed reducing the corporate tax rate from 6% to 5%. This makes Virginia more competitive with other states for companies considering coming to Virginia and hiring Virginians.

The Governor, understanding that small businesses are the backbone of our communities, has proposed reducing the income tax for many small businesses by a flat 10%. These reductions will strengthen businesses, potentially reducing the prices that you pay.

These tax cuts are possible because the economy has been booming this year. People are getting higher wages but so is the cost of everything you buy. Lessening your tax bill will allow you more options to spend or save.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Virginia, over the last decade, has fallen behind the states with which we compete. Those states are hiring our young people that we have educated. Governor Youngkin understands that this is a losing strategy that we must reverse. He, therefore, is proposing investing a total of $450 million on site development so that we have sites ready for businesses to bring their jobs to the state.

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

The Governor has seen that our efforts to train workers for the skills needed in today’s market are often confusing and not readily available to those that need them. He hopes to reinvigorate the vision that several of us had seventeen years ago which became overburdened by each administration. While we did make significant progress in some areas, particularly at the community colleges with short term skills training such as Fast Forward and G3, we can do more. Not only can more short-term training programs be offered but additionally apprentice training. I am the chief patron of this legislation. He has proposed $60 million to advance Virginia to a higher level.

MENTAL HEALTH

We have never been able to provide all the proper care for folks with needs, but it got worse with Covid. Staffing shortages left many facilities understaffed. At the same time, many suffered because of isolation during Covid, leaving many with nowhere to turn. Additionally, drug use has skyrocketed, with tons of drugs coming across our southern border.

Governor Youngkin has proposed more crisis receiving centers and mobile crisis units. The total cost of this investment is $150 million not only for crisis interventions but also prevention.

NURSING SHORTAGES

Hospitals and other medical facilities have had to curtail services simply because they did not have the staff needed. Part of the problem is that there are not a sufficient number of clinicians and clinical settings to train nurses. The Governor’s efforts will include incentives for experienced nurses to take on those training responsibilities.

EDUCATION

Teachers’ salaries are currently in line to receive another 5% this year. Governor Youngkin is focusing on expanding the fourth and fifth grade performances by more reading and math specialists as well as advancing early learning.

PUBLIC SAFETY

The Governor understands that we cannot have safe homes and streets if we do not have officers to respond to situations. Therefore, he is proposing to deal with the issues of morale, recruitment, and retention as well as compression of salaries which has caused us to lose quality officers.

These are only a few of the issues that Governor Youngkin has focused on in his budget. Beginning next month, the General Assembly will weigh in. The budget will reflect what can be agreed upon by the majority of legislators. Hopefully, those interested in moving our state forward will listen to their constituents and all of these proposals will be in the final budget when the session ends.

FRANK RUFF JR. serves as the 15th District senator in Virginia. He can be reached at Sen. Ruff@verizon.net, (434) 374-5129 or P.O. Box 332, Clarksville, VA 23927.