Tommy Wright: As the political year winds down…

Published 5:06 pm Sunday, December 24, 2023

As we enter the final weeks of 2023, the political year is winding down as well. Governor Youngkin is scheduled to present his proposed budget to the Joint Meeting of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance committees on Wednesday, Dec. 20. 

While we won’t have final details until just before the presentation, the Governor and his team have rolled out several high-profile items in recent days. Of all the proposals announced to date, the highest profile is undoubtedly the Governor’s plan to bring the Washington Capitals and Wizards across the Potomac to Alexandria.

Governor Youngkin’s team was quick to point out that there is no upfront investment or inclusion of any existing taxes being collected by the Commonwealth, and residents will not see any tax increases.

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Said simply, the company that owns Wizards and Caps will bear the cost of the new facilities through a long-term lease, in addition to a $410 million initial investment. During the coming legislative session, legislators will be asked to create the Virginia Sports and Entertainment Authority, which will issue bonds to pay for the project.

Bonds will be repaid through the rent paid by the company, arena parking revenue, naming rights, and incremental taxes generated by the arena and Phase 1 of the development. The Governor’s team also introduced a plan to invest $500 million in conservation programs.

Those proposals include:

• Over $200M for Agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs) implementation to work towards meeting the Commonwealth’s Chesapeake Bay water quality goals.

• $50M for the City of Richmond to assist in upgrades to their combined sewer overflow control project.

• $73.85M for the Norfolk Coastal Storm Risk Management Project that will assist the city in undertaking structural flood risk management measures.

• $100M for the Community Flood Preparedness Fund that focuses on larger community scale flooding projects.

• $25M for Resilient Virginia Revolving Loan Fund that focuses on providing loans for non-federal match and property scale projects.

Another major program is Building Blocks for Virginia Families” plan, which will build on existing programs to help make childcare and early learning more accessible.The plan is an extension of Virginia’s widely recognized mixed delivery system for early childhood education and will build capacity in places where families have few options. He also announced plans to fund an additional 500 Developmental Disability Waiver slots, on top of the 600 funded last year.

Another announcement included $2 million in new funding for security grants for Jewish community institutions and others under threat from violence.

The committees meet on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.

Merry Christmas

Remember the reason for the season. On Christmas, we are all connected by the love of Jesus; therefore, we celebrate this wonderful season by remembering his birth. Christmas is not about receiving material possessions or how much wealth you may acquire, but it is about understanding that accepting the love of Jesus will permanently place your soul in the wonderful hands of our father God. Merry Christmas to all. 

Del. Tommy Wright can be reached via email at DelTWright@House.Virginia.gov or (804) 698-1061.