State Sen. Joe Morrissey is pleased with the Fiscal 2022-24 budget that the General Assembly passed on June 1.
He noted the compromise legislation resulted in a 32-4 vote in the Senate. It also passed 88-7 in the House.
Morrissey (D-Chester) called the bill “a huge win for Petersburg.”
He noted the bill contains two amendments that allow for a Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission study, and with a positive report, a public vote on a casino. The bill also prohibits Richmond from having another vote on a casino until November 2023, which gives Petersburg time to conduct one, he said.
In addition, the bill provides $2.4 million to tear down the dilapidated Ramada hotel next to Interstate 95 in Petersburg.
Also, it provides $29 million to improve the water infrastructure for the Poor Creek Industrial Park, which consists of a pharmaceutical campus that contains AdvanSix, Civica and Phlow.
The bill has $864,000 in the next year for a recovery high school in Chesterfield County and $500,000 the following year. Morrissey said Del. Carrie Coyner (R-Enon) played a big role in getting the funding.
Among the tax-related items in the budget is an income tax exemption for up to $40,000 in income for military retirees that will be phased in over four years.
State employees will get a $1,000 bonus and a 10-percent raise over two years, or 5 percent each year.
Income tax deductions increase from $4,500 to $8,000 for individuals and from $9,000 to $16,000 for families.
The state portion of the 2.5 percent grocery sales tax was eliminated, effectively dropping it to 1 percent for local taxes only.
The General Assembly met for one day, Morrissey said, noting they were done by 2:30 p.m. They could be called back to handle any line item changes suggested by Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R).
Some of the tax provisions are set to expire prior to the end of 2026.
Under the bill, it will be a misdemeanor to possess between 4 ounces to a pound of marijuana.
According to state law, the budget must be passed by July 1.
Chase voted no
State Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) voted against the budget bill. “Way too much spending and way too much pork,” she said in an email.
The “pork” that she identified includes:
*$10 million in financial aid for students residing in the country illegally;
*$16.4 million for a Cannabis Control Authority operating budget;
*$5.4 million for what she called a “failed” Rolls Royce facility;
*$3 million for cannabis business loans;
*$15 million to Richmond as surety if a business deal they made fails;
*$1 million to Richmond for the Slavery and Freedom Heritage site;
*$950k for an artmobile;
*$2 million for an international sailing event;
*$125k for a Virginia Sports Hall of Fame;
*$481,180 for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library for Kids; and
*$1.15 million for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.