ARLINGTON, Va. (WJLA) — While Virginia lawmakers work towards coming to a budget agreement this week, Gov. Glenn Youngkin is taking action on hundreds of bills lawmakers passed during the regular session.
As of 2:33 p.m. Sunday, Youngkin had 592 bills to take action on before a Monday deadline at midnight.
Youngkin has signed more than 100 bills, including one he campaigned on.
During his campaign for governor, Youngkin slammed his opponent, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, for vetoing a bill that would have notified parents of sexually explicit instructional materials in schools.
“In fact, in Fairfax County this past week, we watched parents so upset because there was such sexually explicit material in the library they had never seen,” Youngkin said during his final debate with McAuliffe last September. “It was shocking ... I believe parents should be in charge of their kids' education.”
After the bill squeaked its way through the legislature this year, Youngkin signed it.
Now, all Virginia school boards will need to ensure parents are notified of sexually explicit instructional materials, give parents the opportunity to review them and allow parents to request nonexplicit instructional material for their children.
However, most Democratic lawmakers opposed the bill, and it almost didn’t pass the House of Delegates and the State Senate.
“I tend to trust our local school divisions to make those kind of decisions,” said State Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax. “Rather than us dictate to them whether they ought to make those decisions. Our librarians are licensed professionals. We let them make judgments for what books are appropriate for children to read.”
Meanwhile, there’s still no deal on the Virginia state budget after Youngkin called lawmakers back to Richmond last week.
But now Republican and Democratic budget negotiators are at least talking to each other, according to Surovell.
“I’ve heard there are actually negotiations and discussions going on which was not the case when we talked a week ago when the governor called us back,” said Surovell.
A major sticking point is one of the governor’s tax relief proposals that would double the standard deduction.
“This is a critically important package,” Youngkin told 7News March 14, after lawmakers adjourned the regular session. “That’s common sense-oriented. It provides up to $1,500 for the typical Virginia family in year one!”
But Surovell doubts Democrats will agree to double the standard deduction.
“It’s the most expensive thing he’s proposed. It would cost $2 billion,” said Surovell.
As Youngkin supports using Virginia's vast surplus for tax cuts to give taxpayers relief, Surovell argues permanent tax cuts could put Virginia’s financial future in jeopardy.
“Virginia has a lot more revenue right now because the federal government has injected about $15 trillion of borrowed money into our economy," said Surovell. "So that makes your economy heat up. When that spigot turns off, the activity is going to go down. I think this focus on tax cuts is a short-term way to view our budget.
"We also have a 7% inflationary environment which means when things at the store cost 7% more – your sales tax is going to go up 7%. There are reasons why the revenue is up and I’m worried about whether it’s going to stay up. And I think we need to be careful about making permanent tax cuts in any kind of budget because we are going to find ourselves in a recession in the next couple of years and be in a very different situation trying to pay for things.”