3 Things I’d Like to See in a Budget Deal

By Ashleigh Crocker 

It’s been fun watching Senator Louise Lucas dunk on Governor Glenn Youngkin over the budget the last few weeks. Democrats in the House and Senate want to give teachers and school staff raises, fund schools, ensure corporations pay their fair share in taxes, and legalize marijuana. Governor Youngkin doesn’t want to do any of those things. But that’s a non-starter for budget negotiations, and on May 13, Governor Youngkin will have to learn to work with others during the special session to come up with a budget deal. And they better come up with something good, because if there isn’t a deal by July 1, 2024, the Virginia government will shut down completely. 

So here are three things I’d like to see in the budget deal that legislators come up with.

  1. Make the super wealthy pay their fair share in taxes! 

In the category of things that are unlikely, but would basically solve all of our problems is changing the tax brackets so that super wealthy people pay their fair share in taxes. Right now, if you make more than $17,000 a year in Virginia, you are in the highest tax bracket. That means teachers, firefighters, and fast food workers pay the same percentage in taxes as super wealthy hedge fund managers. That makes no sense!

One of the bills that was proposed this year and didn’t end up passing was a “fair share” tax to add another tax bracket to our income taxes and force people who earn over a million dollars a year income to pay 10% of their income in taxes. This would impact a tiny fraction of the population and would be such a tiny amount of money for these super-rich people, but would make a huge impact on school funding, affordable housing, and other desperately needed programs. 

I don’t think it is likely to be revived in the budget at this special session, but a girl can dream! 

  1. Fully fund our schools and give teachers and school staff the raises they deserve! 

As the mom of a kid in public school, I know teachers and school staff are working their butts off for these kids. From teachers to recess aides, cafeteria workers, janitors, and school counselors, these people are putting their blood, sweat, and tears into helping our kids and getting paid much less than they are worth. We need to send the message to these folks that they matter and that their work is meaningful and valuable to our kids. 

Additionally, we need to fully fund our schools to ensure that every child, regardless of their zip code or background, has access to the world-class education they deserve. For too long, we’ve been asking our schools to fill in the gaps on everything from feeding hungry kids to dealing with mental health crises, and if we’re going to continue to make that ask of our schools, we better give them the money they need to do it well. 

  1. Removing barriers and obstacles that people of color and people with lower incomes face and ensuring everyone has a fair shot at success. 

The reality is that some people have gotten ahead just because of the color of their skin or the family they were born into. We need a budget that will prioritize the needs of people of color and people with lower incomes to ensure they have a shot at being just as successful as people who don’t face those barriers. That means making sure the budget includes things like a fully refundable earned income tax credit, funding for HBCUs, and programs for immigrants to our Commonwealth to find their footing in their new lives. 

The only way we can get these things in the budget is if our legislators and Governor know that we want them. So join me in calling Governor Youngkin, Senator Louise Lucas (Chair of Senate Finance, and Delegate Luke Torian (Chair of House Appropriations) to tell them what you want to see in the budget that they’ll be working on during the special session on May 13. 

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