Virginia lawmakers meet in Richmond for General Assembly special session

The House and Senate disagree on how to spend a $14 billion surplus

Virginia General Assembly begins special session

RICHMOND, Va. – Virginia lawmakers returned to Richmond Monday for a special session with the goal of passing a two-year spending budget.

The General Assembly gaveled in at noon, but there wasn’t a lot on the day’s agenda.

The two sides originally drew up versions of the budget that were about $3 billion apart.

The House and Senate left their regular session on March 12 without a deal, so Governor Glenn Youngkin called legislators back to Richmond and expected them to get to work.

“I was disappointed at the pace the work was going. I was disappointed,” said Youngkin Monday morning before the special session.

Republican Senator Steve Newman and Democratic Delegate Sam Rasoul say it could take weeks before a compromise.

“The budget getting done is just critical. We need to do it correctly. I think we need to watch out for the taxpayers,” said Newman, who represents Virginia’s 23rd District.

“We are in agreement with many of the issues at hand. It’s just a matter of finding a final agreement on a few last pieces,” said Delegate Rasoul, who represents Virginia’s 11th District.

The General Assembly disagrees on how to spend a $14 billion surplus.

Republicans want to use it on rebates and tax breaks -- like the gas tax.

Rasoul says the Democrat-controlled Senate agrees on rebates, but not as much on relieving the pain at the pump.

“The trouble with the gas tax is that it doesn’t actually bring down the price down at the pump for sure. So, we want to make sure that whatever we do, we get money back into the hands of Virginians,” said Rasoul.

“Working Virginians in the Roanoke and Lynchburg area -- those guys are really struggling at the pump. So, if we can do something that maybe just doesn’t give government so much, but helps working families, I think we should probably try to look at that,” said Newman.

There is consensus on eliminating the grocery tax.

Newman says the General Assembly should finalize the budget in time for local governments to develop their budgets, which needs to be finished sometime in May.

Lawmakers do have a hard deadline before the new fiscal year takes effect on July 1.

About the Author:

Tim Harfmann joined the 10 News team in September 2020 and works at the station's Lynchburg bureau.