RICHMOND, Virginia – After hammering out a compromise between the House of Delegates and the Senate, the Virginia General Assembly voted to send its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) budget bill to Governor Ralph Northam. The bill passed the House 78-20 and passed the Senate 23-16.
Senate Finance Committee Chair Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) said that she and other senators fought for the Senate’s amendments in a conference committee with representatives from the House.
“As you look at the conference report you will see that on several items our position was affirmed, and on others we were able to compromise,” she reported to the Senate.
On Monday, State Senator William “Bill” Stanley (R-Franklin) will file a lawsuit against Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, Attorney General Mark Herring, and the Virginia Alcohol Beverage and Control Board on behalf of former NASCAR driver Hermie Sadler. Sadler, an Emporia, Virginia resident, wants the newly signed legislation banning “skill games” in the Commonwealth to be deemed unconstitutional.
The American Rescue Plan will provide $7.2 billion for Virginia: $2.9 billion allocated for municipalities, and $4.3 billion for the state government, according to a Tuesday announcement from Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. On Wednesday, Governor Ralph Northam and Democratic General Assembly leaders released their priorities for the $4.3 billion, including upgrading public health infrastructure, funding the Rebuild Virginia small business recovery plan, adding funds to the Unemployment Trust Fund, modernizing public schools, and deploying broadband across Virginia.
The General Assembly has so far failed to find middle ground for tax breaks on forgiven Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) loans, and will now form a committee of three senators and three delegates to reconcile differences between the two chambers.
While a Senate bill calls for a $100,000 cap on income deductions claimed under PPP expenditures, the House of Delegates bill calls for only a $25,000 cap. When the two chambers considered each other’s bills, the House modified SB 1146 to a $25,000 cap, while the Senate amended HB 1935 to a $100,000 cap. After passing the modified versions, both chambers then rejected the modified versions of their original bills. On Friday, the two chambers agreed to form a conference committee to work together to create a bill that can pass both chambers.
The Virginia House of Delegates passed its two-year $134 billion budget on Tuesday with specific funding for rental and utility assistance, public education, internet access, affordable housing, criminal justice and police reform.
The revised budget from the House does not perfectly lineup with the proposed budget Governor Ralph Northam presented to the General Assembly at the beginning of the 2020 special session.