June 30, 2022
Tomorrow, while Virginians embark on summer vacations and prepare to celebrate Independence Day, the Commonwealth will mark the July 1 beginning of a new fiscal year. At long last, the biennial budget has been completed, signed by the Governor, and will go into effect—alongside a slew of laws. Following is an update on the budget as well as highlights about a number of new policies.

But first, a gloomy reminder: due to Democrat-sponsored legislation passed in 2020, Virginia’s gas tax increases by 7% tomorrow. (Virginia’s gas tax is now adjusted annually based on inflation, which is at record highs.) 
The Budget Process
As a reminder, the Governor proposes the Commonwealth’s budget in December. Then-Governor Northam unveiled a budget that was subsequently introduced as legislation during the 2022 General Assembly session. Both the House and Senate then reviewed Governor Northam’s proposed budget and made changes reflective of their chamber’s policy priorities. Two different versions of the budget resulted, and House and Senate conferees were tasked with resolving differences and developing a workable compromise. Ideally, this work should have been completed prior to March 12; however, the final product was not unveiled until May 29.

Negotiations surrounding Virginia’s budget are notoriously—and frustratingly—secretive. Budget conferees (six from the House and eight from the Senate) meet privately, and there is no required record of their discussions or the rationale behind their decisions. Further complicating the process is the fact that not all conferees participate in the discussions; private one-on-one negotiations are a more frequent occurrence. 

Once an agreement is reached, the conference report is provided simultaneously to legislators and the public. Current rules require the report be published at least forty-eight hours prior to a vote. Publication occurred on Sunday, May 29, and the vote took place on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 1. The compromise passed the House and Senate with strong bipartisan support and was communicated to Governor Youngkin on June 9. The Constitution allows the Governor seven days to offer amendments. Accordingly, numerous recommendations were provided to the public on June 15.  On June 17, the legislature returned yet again to Richmond for consideration of these amendments. After a lengthy eight and a half hour session, the General Assembly completed its work. The Governor signed the budget on June 21, 2022.  
Budget Basics
The long-anticipated budget represents a compromise between the priorities of House Republicans and Senate Democrats. Due to an influx of one-time federal dollars combined with revenue growth, the Commonwealth has a remarkably large budget this year. House Republicans endeavored to return monies to taxpayers, while Senate Democrats sought to increase funding and expansion of government programs. The final budget agreement includes funding for core governmental services (such as law enforcement salaries) as well as impressively large tax cuts that will provide much-needed relief for struggling Virginians. This budget is structurally sound and realistically accounts for potential declines in future state revenue.

Following are some details about the budget content. Please note that this is an overview. There is much MUCH more included in the biennial budget, which may be viewed online HERE
What's NOT in the budget?
  • Tax increases
  • Fee increases
  • New general fund debt
  • Funding or language supporting a stadium for the Washington Commanders
  • Gas tax relief (unfortunately)
What IS in the budget?
Tax relief

  • Increases the standard deduction from $4,500 to $8,000 for single filers and from $9,000 to $16,000 for married filers until January 2026.
  • Repeals the state share of grocery tax (1.5%) and backfills the funding for public schools. (Note: this grocery tax repeal will not go into effect until January 1, 2023.)
  • Provides one-time tax rebates of $250 per individual or $500 per couple.
  • Exempts up to $40,000 in military retirement pay from individual income tax for veterans over the age of 55. This exemption is phased in over four years.
  • Replenishes the unemployment trust fund, preventing hikes in unemployment insurance taxes on Virginia’s employers.

Fiscal responsibility

  • Bolsters the Virginia Retirement System by $750 million plus an additional $250 million if revenues continue an upward trajectory.
  • Increases rainy day fund deposit by $1.1 billion, bringing the reserve fund to $3.9 billion and safeguarding Virginia’s AAA bond rating.


  • Funds widening of the 29-mile stretch of Interstate 64 between James City County and Richmond.


  • Provides new funding for additional School Resource Officers.
  • Increases teacher pay by 5% during both years of the biennial budget.
  • Invests in “lab schools” to promote innovation between public institutions of higher education and K-12 schools.

Health and Human Services

  • Increase Medicaid reimbursement costs to ensure health care providers are adequately compensated for services.
  • Substantial salary increases for individuals employed by Virginia’s mental health care facilities (including Eastern State).
Marijuana Policy
Last year the Commonwealth adopted (over Republican objections) a remarkably convoluted statute legalizing and regulating marijuana. During the General Assembly session, the legislature attempted to tackle some of the resultant problems; however, there was no consensus and action was not taken. In a somewhat unusual move, the budget imposes some of these previously rejected legislative fixes. Public possession of more than four ounces of marijuana will now be a misdemeanor, but restrictions on home possession have been lifted.
Limitations on Executive Power
In a major victory for those who support limitations on executive power, Governor Youngkin signed legislation restricting the Governor’s authority to impose executive orders on Virginians. House Bill 158 limits the duration of emergency executive actions to 45 days unless approved by both the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates. This new law effectively prevents a recurrence of the types of interminable and arbitrary executive orders issued by the Northam administration. 
Notable New Laws
Previous newsletters outlined many of the bills that moved through the legislative process and will go into effect tomorrow. An excellent summary of numerous select bills is published by the Division of Legislative Services and available online HERE. Additionally, below are notable bills that may be of interest:

  • House Bill 4 restores a requirement that school principals report serious misdemeanors such as sexual battery to law enforcement. Under a law passed by Democrats in 2020, administrators had discretion over whether to report these crimes to police.
  • Senate Bill 656  requires the Department of Education to create guidelines for notifying parents when students will be taught using explicit materials and provides an opt-out with different materials for parents who object. If the school will teach from a book with explicit material, they must inform parents and offer a chance to opt out.        
  • House Bill 283 creates training standards to educate police officers in recognizing and preventing human trafficking.
  • House Bill 741 requires schools have detailed safety audit plans to ensure that local law enforcement has the information needed to handle threats or dangerous situations.
  • House Bill 750 bans police departments from issuing “ticket quotas” requiring police officers to issue a certain number of traffic tickets in a fixed period of time.
  • House Bill 927 requires absentee ballots be reported as part of the precinct where they otherwise would have been cast. The net effect of this will be the end of late night ‘vote dumps’ that suddenly shift election outcomes.
  • House Bill 1303 corrects a major oversight in Virginia's criminal justice system and brings transparency to the votes of Parole Board members. Until now, the Parole Board could vote secretly when determining to release eligible inmates. These votes will now be open for public scrutiny.
A Deadline
In addition to being the final day of Virginia's fiscal year, today, June 30, also marks a major campaign fundraising deadline. Your contribution of $5, $10, $50, or $100—or any amount—goes a long way in ensuring my campaign has the resources required for success. We are fiscally conservative (of course!) and every single dollar is used wisely to ensure outreach to constituent voters. Please click HERE to make a donation.
We want to hear from you!
My office remains available to offer assistance with any state-related matter or agency. We are located at 7405 Richmond Road in Williamsburg and can be reached by phone at 757-741-7001 or by email at [email protected]. (For campaign-related matters, please send all correspondence to [email protected]).

Enjoy your weekend!

Contact Delegate Batten
Legislative Aide: Dayle Brittain
Mail: P.O. Box 194, Norge, VA 23127
Phone: 757-741-7001
Paid for and Authorized by Friends of Amanda Batten