Tax cuts are a top agenda item in the 2023 Virginia legislative session
(The Center Square) – Tax cuts, abortion and education policy are among the range of issues Virginia lawmakers will debate after the 2023 legislative session convenes this week.
The 2023 session that convenes Wednesday will likely be a sprint for lawmakers, who will meet for at least 30 days with a possible extension to 45 days. In that time, legislators will weigh a slew of proposals ranging from tax cuts for individuals and businesses to a 15-week ban on abortion in the Commonwealth.
A top task for lawmakers this session will be approving adjustments to the two-year budget passed in 2022. In his proposed budget amendments introduced last month, Gov. Glenn Youngkin has proposed $1 billion in tax cuts that will be weighed by members of the politically-divided General Assembly – Republicans hold a majority in the House of Delegates, while Democrats control the State Senate.
Youngkin wants to reduce the top personal income tax rate on individuals, and lower the state’s corporate income tax rate. He has also proposed a special deduction for small businesses.
The governor’s proposals must be approved by both Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly in order to take effect. Republican lawmakers have voiced support for the proposals, while Democrats have expressed skepticism.
“Instead of fully funding mental health services, public education institutions, addressing the workforce shortage, and making housing and higher education more affordable, the Governor is proposing a budget that gives major corporations and the top 1% massive tax cuts at the expense of those who need it most,” Democratic Caucus Chair Sen. Mamie Locke said in a statement last month.
Abortion is another key topic likely to spark debate among lawmakers after the session convenes Wednesday. After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer, Youngkin said he supports a state ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at risk.
Youngkin tapped four Republican lawmakers to work on a bill establishing the ban, though no bill was filed as of Monday afternoon. So far, a Senate Resolution that “recognizes the right to life begins at conception” and another bill to prohibit the use of public funds for abortion services have been pre-filed.
The governor’s proposed budget amendments include $50,000 toward establishing a 15-week abortion ban, though the proposal is likely to face an uphill battle in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
“Governor Youngkin has asked us for prison funding of $50,000 for jailing women or doctors who violate his 15 week abortion ban proposal,” Senate President pro Tempore L. Louis Lucas tweeted last month. “While this is administrative to pair with his bill (that will not pass) it tells us what his real intent is.”
In a statement, Youngkin’s office told The Washington Post that Democrats are “deliberately misleading people,” explaining that the $50,000 amount meets a technical requirement for new legislation involving crime, and it does not mean the governor is seeking to imprison people who violate the ban.
Democrats are aiming for a win in a special election for a Virginia Beach Senate seat taking place Tuesday, where abortion has emerged as a key issue among candidates. If Democrats pick up a seat in the special election, their Senate majority would be 22-18 over Republicans.
Lawmakers are also likely to debate several bills involving education policy, including proposals supporters are touting as “parental choice” and “parental rights” measures.
Several pre-filed bills propose the creation of education savings accounts that parents can use toward education expenses outside of public school, such as tuition for a private school or private tutoring. Other pre-filed education bills would require greater transparency surrounding school materials and demand schools provide a catalog of library books to parents and identify books that include “graphic sexual content.”
The bills will likely spur debate on both sides of the aisle. Republican lawmakers have argued public schools are “failing” students, and parents should have a say in where their child attends school. Democrats, on the other hand, have argued school choice bills would threaten funds for public education.
Other issues lawmakers are likely to mull this session include setting up a framework for retail sales of marijuana, proposed repeals of state gun laws and energy policy.
Lawmakers will flock to Richmond to convene the 2023 session Wednesday at noon.
Originally published by The Center Square. Republished with permission.
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