RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia lawmakers reconvened Monday for a brief special session called by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, but the session ended with no movement on a budget agreement nor the governor’s gas tax holiday proposal.
Youngkin said he wanted to bring both sides together in-person since he was disappointed with the pace of budget talks, but lawmakers lobbying for their side said they were confident a deal would eventually be reached.
“Everybody's here today and I expect them to get to work today and I know that there are meetings that can be held and should be held and will be held,” Youngkin said at a bill signing about an hour before the special session began. "It's important to go ahead and get people back to work and I think calling them back to special session is important motivator to do that.
The two chambers, which are controlled by opposite parties, passed competing budgets but need to resolve a $3 billion difference as they debate what to do with a nearly $14 billion budget surplus.
“We understand everything's in negotiation, we have to try to get together,” House Appropriations Committee Chair Del. Barry Knight (R - Virginia Beach) said.
The Republican-controlled House wants to double the standard deduction, give one-time rebates and completely eliminate the sales tax on groceries.
“We'd rather give some relief to the taxpayers on a double standard deduction and maybe doing away with the grocery tax,” Knight said.
The Democratic-controlled Senate wants to repeal only the state portion part of the grocery tax, offer a refundable earned income tax credit and invest in things like affordable housing and schools.
“I believe that the Senate budget is future-oriented,” Sen. Barbara Favola (D - Arlington) said. “I believe we make the right investments in teachers, in schools, in mental health.”
Monday also saw no action on Youngkin's proposal for a gas tax holiday as the legislation has not yet been released. However, Republicans said they are looking at what's been done in other states.
“And looks like it does flow through to the consumer, so that's going to be our argument,” Knight said.
But Democrats questioned how much Virginians at the pump would benefit -- and at what cost to highway maintenance --
“We want to make sure that money gets back into Virginians pockets, we understand that folks have been hit hard in terms of inflationary pressures,” Sen. Jeremy McPike (D - Manassas City) said.
Youngkin's office said they are working on a timeline for when that gas tax legislation could be released.