Virginians set to receive tax relief, not for fuel

(The Center Square) – Virginians will not receive any relief at the pump after one Republican joined controlling Democrats in the state Senate to vote down Gov. Glenn Youngkin's proposed gas tax holiday.

The plan passed the Republican-controlled House of Delegates, but narrowly failed the Democratic-controlled Senate.

“Democrats failed to put politics aside for the good of Virginians — for a third time,” Youngkin said in a statement. “At a time when inflation and gas prices are at a high in the Commonwealth, Virginians should know that higher gas prices are brought to you by [Virginia Senate Democrats].”

Virginians are set to receive broad tax cuts when the biennial budget goes into effect.

The final budget deal will increase the standard deduction, which is meant to provide broad tax relief for the middle class. The budget bill increases the standard deduction for single filers from $4,500 to $9,000 and for joint filers from $9,000 to $16,000. This increased the standard deduction by about three-fourths of what the governor originally sought. The budget will also make the earned income tax credit refundable, which is meant to provide tax relief to low-income earners.

Shoppers will also see tax relief at the grocery store. The budget eliminates the state’s 1.5% portion of the grocery tax, but keeps the 1% local option. This mirrors the Senate Democratic plan, but falls short of the Republican plan to eliminate the entire tax and allocate funds to localities to offset revenue losses from the local portion.

“We commend legislators for prioritizing much-needed tax relief for Virginians in the budget by significantly increasing the standard deduction for individuals and couples, so they can spend more of their hard-earned money how they see fit,” J.C. Hernandez, the Virginia director for Americans for Prosperity, said in a statement.

The budget bill also includes higher salaries for teachers and other state employees. They will receive a 5% boost in the first year of the budget and another 5% boost in the second year. On top of that, they will receive one-time 1,000 bonuses. The budget also includes targeted pay increases for certain law-enforcement positions.

Other funding measures include $3 billion for K-12 education, with 1.25 billion of that going to school construction. It includes $750 million guaranteed for unfunded liabilities in the Virginia Retirement System, with another $250 million possible, depending on state revenue. It also includes $700 million more for Medicaid, $217 million more for community-based mental health services, $255 million for a housing tax credit and $150 million more for the Virginia Housing Trust Fund.

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