In this newsletter, I provide analysis of the Senate and House budget bills, share some legislative updates as we move past Crossover, remind constituents in CD-04 about the upcoming election, discuss opportunities for community engagement, and reflect on events from this past week. Thank you for taking the time to read and for staying informed.
The House and Senate budgets were released last week, and each Chamber voted on its respective budget on Thursday. The two budgets couldn’t be more different in their priorities and objectives. The House budget places priorities on tax cuts for corporations and top-earners. The Senate budget invests the Commonwealth’s surplus directly in education, mental health support, health care, and financially-strapped programs.
The Commonwealth Institute recently shared a document comparing the contents of each budget. Despite denials from the Governor’s office, nearly $1 billion in tax cuts will benefit businesses and wealthy individuals. The Governor intends to cut corporate taxes by one percent, costing taxpayers $362 million. Another qualifying business income deduction of 10% will cost $162 million. And because Virginia income tax brackets have not been adjusted in over 30 years, a tax cut for those in the top bracket will cost another $333 million.
Instead of prioritizing corporate tax breaks, the Senate budget supports our public schools, universities, healthcare providers, and social services providers. The Senate budget triples the investment in direct aid to schools, guarantees 2% raises to all teachers (in addition to the 5% approved last year), provides additional raises to Board Certified teachers, grants a retention bonus to school support staff while also eliminating the state funding cap on those positions, funds additional mental and physical health initiatives, and adds funding for additional English Language (EL) teachers.
Several budget amendments I requested are included in the Senate’s budget, and many of these directly impact the constituents of Senate District 10. Within the final Senate budget bill, my approved requests totaled $144,629,519. Here are a few highlights:
On Tuesday, the Senate and the House concluded the first half of session, and all bills that passed their chamber of origin now head to the opposite chamber—a period known as “Crossover.” This past week, 7 of my bills passed out of the Senate, bringing the total number of successful bills to 19. Of those 19 bills, 17 passed with bipartisan support, and they now go to the House of Delegates for consideration. The seven bills that passed the Senate just prior to Crossover this week are listed below:
Our Upcoming Special Election: Congressional District 4, February 21
On Tuesday, February 21, constituents in United States House of Representatives District 4 will hold a special election to fill late Congressman Donald McEachin’s seat. Here are important details related to the upcoming election:
Tuesday, February 14, is the last day to register to vote or update an existing registration. Information related to voter registration can be found at Virginia Department of Elections.
Saturday, February 18, is the last day of early voting. Early voting is available to Chesterfield County residents at the Chesterfield Registrar's Office, located at 9848 Lori Road, Monday through Friday from 8:30am until 5:00pm and on Saturday, February 18, from 8:30am until 5:00pm. City of Richmond residents have two early voting locations: the Office of Elections (2134 West Laburnum Avenue) and Hickory Hill Community Center (3000 East Belt Boulevard). Hours of operation for each location can be found here. Please note, Richmond City Hall will not be used as an early voting location for this election. Additional information can be found on the Chesterfield County Registrar’s Office and City of Richmond’s Office of Elections websites.
On Election Day, February 21, polls will be open from 6:00am until 7:00pm.
Senator Jennifer McClellan has my full and enthusiastic endorsement. Over the past two decades, Senator McClellan has proven herself repeatedly as a fearless champion for reproductive rights, public education, social justice, the environment, housing, criminal justice, and so many other issues that affect all Virginians. Senator McClellan is the unmistakable heir to Congressman Donald McEachin’s legacy. Not only will she continue, but she will expand on the work of our Congressman, and she will make her own distinctive mark in the United States Congress.
Yesterday, I joined Supervisor Jim Holland from the Dale District,School Board Representative Dot Heffron from the Clover Hill District, and Larry Barnett, Chair of the Chesterfield County Democratic Committee, at the Chesterfield County Registrar’s Office to support Jennifer McClellan’s campaign.
The Sorenson Institute’s High School Leaders Program
The University of Virginia is now accepting applications for its Sorensen Institute High School Leaders Program (HSLP). Participants learn about how Virginia government—both local and state—functions, how public policy is shaped and debated, and how to develop professional skills, pitch stories to the media, effectively address audiences, collaborate with others, and lobby legislators. The 2023 HSLP will be held at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville from Saturday, July 15, through Saturday, July 29. Additional information about the program and the application process is here. The deadline to apply is March 20.
HCA Virginia’s Cards for Caregivers Campaign
HCA Virginia is launching a Cards for Caregivers campaign to thank healthcare workers for the sacrifices they make to care for patients and their families. Until Valentine’s Day, community members can help to send messages to their local HCA hospital or another healthcare provider throughout the Commonwealth. More information about the Cards for Caregivers campaign, how to download a printable card, or how to send a digital card to local HCA Healthcare hospitals is available here.
Community Events and Meetings
On Tuesday morning, I joined Senators Lucas, Barker, and McClellan, as well as Delegates Adams, Bourne, and VanValkenburg, for a press conference supporting the Senate version of the budget. Alongside members of the Fund Our Schools coalition, we drew the clear distinction between the House and Senate budgets: the Senate budget reflects our Commonwealth’s values of supporting schools and students, upgrading our school infrastructure, investing in mental health initiatives, and raising pay.
Later on Tuesday morning, I had the opportunity to connect with members of the Virginia Chapter of the Indian American Muslim Council. They were visiting the offices of members of the General Assembly.
On Wednesday, I participated in an Equality Virginia press conference alongside Delegates Danica Roem and Dawn Adams, with support from my Senate colleagues Senator Adam Ebbin, Barbara Favola, and Jennifer Boysko. We responded to House legislation discriminating against LGBTQIA+ youth which has no place in the Commonwealth.
During a second press conference on Wednesday, I stood alongside fellow patrons of SB 1101, a proposal to establish universal paid family and medical leave in the Commonwealth. Senator Jennifer Boysko, the bill’s Chief Patron, has been a consistent champion for working families and has been the legislation’s patron for years. I am honored to be a part of this historic passage in the Senate.
Later on Wednesday, I connected with members of the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond for their annual Jewish Advocacy Day. I commend the dedication of the Jewish Federation and look forward to working together to counter the resurgence in antisemitic bigotry.
Our Virginia Asian American and Pacific Islander Caucus(VAAPIC) hosted the Crossover Town Hall on Thursday evening to provide updates on Caucus priorities post-Crossover and discuss the budget bills. Pictured here are my fellow Caucus members: Delegate Kathy Tran (Chair), Delegate Kelly Fowler (Treasurer), and Delegate Irene Shin. Missing from this photo is Delegate Suhas Subramanyam (Secretary) who had to hop off just before we concluded the call. We thank the many community members who joined the town hall.
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