96th District, Virginia House of Delegates                                        February 8 , 2019

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Richmond Office 
Pocahontas Building
Room E306
900 East Main Street
Richmond, VA 23219
Phone: 804-698-1096
Fax: 804-786-6310
DelBPogge@house.virginia.gov
   
Legislative Aide
Amanda Batten
Amanda@brendapogge.com
For a variety of reasons, this week has been extremely challenging. Crossover is always a grueling process of reviewing, debating, and voting on hundreds of bills over a relatively short space of time. This year we steadily conducted business even as the media swarmed around the Capitol. Unfazed by the presence of news vans and cameras, the House completed all work on House bills, passed a budget, and celebrated meaningful tax reform. Despite the distractions of the week and the controversy surrounding members of the Executive Branch, I remain fully focused on serving the constituents of the 96th District. I do hope you will join me in praying for Virginia during this difficult and sad time.
Update on tax conformity & reform
Republicans in the House and Senate have agreed on the terms of a $1 billion tax relief package, the most significant tax relief plan in at least 15 years and the second largest tax cut in Virginia history. The legislation is expected to be voted on by the House and Senate on Monday then forwarded to Governor Northam for his signature. I highly recommend reading the Richmond Times-Dispatch  coverage of this development: 
 
In order for this legislation to go into effect immediately, 80% of legislators in each chamber must approve the bill. Unfortunately, Democrats previously opposed the measure. For this reason--unless Democrats change their minds--the legislation will not go into effect until July 1. Taxpayers will still file under the regular schedule (by May 1), but the savings will be realized as follows:

The bicameral compromise will provide $420 million in tax refunds to Virginia taxpayers in October of 2019, increase the standard deduction by fifty percent beginning in tax year 2019, maintain the current rules for state and local taxes (SALT), and include key business tax provisions for Virginia's largest job creators. The total package will guarantee at least $976 million in tax relief and ensure that all additional revenues from the permanent provisions of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are placed in the state's cash reserve fund. The legislation also conforms Virginia tax law to the federal law.
 
Under this plan, married couples will receive a tax refund check of up to $220 in October and beginning next year, will receive $173 in tax relief on their state taxes, for a total of $400 back over the next two years. This is simple, direct and meaningful tax relief.
What's in the budget?

This week we passed amendments to the two-year budget in order to eliminate all spending based on the higher taxes proposed by Governor Northam. We also included additional investments in public education, school safety, and higher education. During the budget debate, we saw a fundamental difference between House Republicans and House Democrats: Democrats preferred to spend excess revenues in order to increase the size of government, while Republicans asserted that the money should be returned to the taxpayers. Following are budget highlights that may be of interest to you: 

  • Healthcare savings: the budget identifies $120 million in healthcare savings, strengthens taxpayer protections in the Medicaid forecasting process, eliminates unfunded liabilities and saves $729 million in state spending over the next quarter-century.  
  • K-12 education: the budget provides $155 million in increased funding, includes funding for a 5% teacher pay raise, and returns 45% of lottery money to local schools with no strings attached.
  • School safety: the budget includes a record investment of nearly $19 million. The budget doubles the funding for School Security Grant funding to $12 million and increases the award cap to $200,000 per grant application, increases funding for School Resource Officers by $3 million, and provides funding for school safety training at Virginia schools ($1.3 million). 
  • Higher Education: our budget prioritizes higher education affordability by including $45 million to incentivize colleges and universities to hold tuition flat at 2019 levels. 

I believe the budget represents a commonsense approach to funding priorities. While I do not agree with every item included in the budget, I think the funding levels are responsible and reasonable. 72 of my House colleagues--from both sides of the aisle--joined me in voting for the bill.

2019 legislative survey
The survey is now CLOSED. Results are currently being tabulated, and I hope to share them with you next week.
This week in Richmond
Yesterday the Capitol was the site of the Commonwealth for Life rally. Pro-life advocates from throughout Virginia gathered in front of the Capitol to express support for the defense of innocent life. I was thrilled to see so many familiar faces, and I thank all who participated.

Other visitors this week included representatives from the following organizations:
  • NASA
  • Thomas Nelson Community College
  • United Jewish Community-Virginia Peninsula
  • Virginia Catholic Conference
Visitors from Thomas Nelson Community College

As always, please stop by my office if you are in Richmond. If you are unable to visit, please feel free to contact me via email at DelBPogge@house.virginia.gov or by phone at 804-698-1096. 

Enjoy your weekend!
  Signature  
Delegate Brenda Pogge

Paid for and Authorized by Brenda Pogge for Delegate