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Commonwealth's Counties

Governor Youngkin Outlines Priorities in Address to Legislature

Governor Youngkin made his first address to a joint assembly of the legislature on the afternoon of Monday, January 17, citing his desire to work collaboratively on “kitchen table concerns” such as public education, public safety, and economic growth.  In addition to the series of executive orders and directives the Governor signed on Saturday after his inauguration, the Governor has submitted 59 pieces of legislation and plans to propose a package of 25 budget amendments.

The Governor offered an overview of key priorities for his Administration.  Of particular interest to local government, he predicted a “record investment” in K-12 funding in the biennium budget, with “a significant boost in teacher pay.”  He underscored his support for charter schools and similar efforts, such as lab schools that are partnerships with institutions of higher education, as well as school safety and parental involvement.  He indicated his support for investment in megasites to attract economic development prospects, as well as for full deployment of broadband in rural areas.  The Governor signaled support for the compensation increases included in the introduced budget for state troopers, sheriffs’ deputies, and correctional officers, and requested the dedication of $100 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding for training and equipment for law enforcement, as well as $26 million in state funding to support local police departments.  He indicated that these funds will be limited to localities that increase funding for their local departments, but provided no further details on what increases might be required or how this proposal would comport with the HB 599 program, which provides aid to localities with police departments.

The Governor also indicated his support for addressing water quality needs, including full funding of agricultural best management practices, seeing Chesapeake Bay cleanup through “to the finish line,” and establishing a Coastal Virginia Resiliency Authority.

The Governor reminded legislators of his slate of tax reform proposals, including suspension of the most recently-enacted gas tax increase for one year, full elimination of the sales tax on groceries, doubling the standard deduction for Virginia income taxes, and exemption of the first $40,000 in military retirement pay from state income taxes.

VACo looks forward to working with Governor Youngkin and his Administration on county priorities.

VACo Contact:  Katie Boyle

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