Governor Youngkin says the upcoming General Assembly is going to be a busy one. This past week he was in Salem discussing his goals for the Commonwealth. He said he wants to move more aggressively to reduce the cost of living, by announcing changes to the Biennial Budget.
He wants to reduce the portion of Virginians’ income that is paid toward taxes.
According to the Governor, the new budget would allow for $2.6 billion to be invested in education, law enforcement, mental health and transportation.
Youngkin said he is challenging all members of the State Legislature to go to work and deliver results during the session that starts this week.
Delegate Sam Rasoul says this year, there are a lot of priorities he wants to fund, but he’s focusing on helping the working and middle class.
“A lot of these tax cuts that are proposed, unfortunately, go to the wealthy or go to corporations. So for me, I am going to make sure we are making the investments that we need and any relief that I have supported in the past, needs to go to those that really need it the most,” said Rasoul.
“I plan to carry a number of those bills including one that will reduce the personal deduction for everyday citizens. The other one is a reduction of the corporate tax and the other is something we really need to do more of and that is lower the taxes for our veterans. So I am very pleased the Governor is going after the big issue of tax reform,” said Delegate Steve Newman of the 23rd District.
On Jan. 1, a 1.5% grocery tax was eliminated. This was a result of the State Legislatures’ work in 2022.
Another issue Delegate Rasoul wants to tackle during the General Assembly is increased funding for mental health services in Southwest Virginia. He is backing a bill that could transform Catawba Hospital into a state-of-the-art facility. This would focus on substance abuse treatment and recovery services.
“Right now half of our mental health beds are filled with substance use disorder diagnoses. We clearly do not have the residential treatment or the facilities that we need. What I want to do is make sure Richmond is funding the things we need in the greater Roanoke Region,” said Rasoul.
Along with increased funding, Rasoul is hoping to lower the voting age to 16.
Delegate Steve Newman is backing a bill that allows for more funding to the Southern Virginia Internet Crimes Against Children Program. He wants at least $2.5 million every year to be allocated to this for investigating and prosecuting internet crimes against children.
“The problem has been that our funding has been up and down and up and down and they can’t hire the people and keep the people to protect our children. This hopefully will fix that,” said Newman.
The two major forces that protect children online are the State Police and the Bedford County Sheriff’s Department.
The 2023 General Assembly is set to last for 30 days with a 45-day extension.