Category Archives: Budgets

Virginia Set to Help Taxpayers for a Change

from The Republican Standard

Good news for Virginia taxpayers.

In the coming weeks, several hundred dollars are heading back into the pockets of eligible Virginians. Up to $400 per household will be heading to mailboxes and bank accounts across the Commonwealth thanks to a surplus in the state budget recently signed by Governor Glenn Youngkin.

In a media release issued by his office last week, Governor Youngkin stated.

“As Virginians continue to face inflation and high prices as a direct result of policies out of Washington, D.C., these rebates are an important step going into the holiday season to help Virginians keep more of their hard-earned money for gas, groceries, and essentials.”

NBC4Washington also noted that “the taxation department has an online lookup tool where taxpayers can go to see if they’ll receive a rebate.”

If you enjoy having more control over your own dollars, don’t forget to think about the benefits of having leaders in the state that value the taxpayers as you head to cast your ballot in the state and local elections this year.

Republished with permission from The Republican Standard. 

Voters Will Decide Virginia’s Future Direction

by Derrick Max

In two weeks, the people of Virginia will decide on two competing visions for the future of Virginia. Will they elect a General Assembly favoring Governor Glenn Youngkin’s more freedom-oriented policy vision, or will they elect a General Assembly returning the Commonwealth to the statist policy vision of former governors Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam?

While much of the current debate in the Commonwealth has focused almost solely on abortion, the number of issues “on the ballot” in this election is much broader and ought to be more closely considered by voters. If readers want a deeper dive into these issues, links to the Thomas Jefferson Institute’s work in these areas are included.

Surpluses are on the ballot in Virginia.

Earlier this year, faced with an historic $5.1 billion surplus, Governor Youngkin and Democrats in the Virginia Senate reached a deal to cut $1.05 billion in taxes and allocate $3.7 billion in new, one-time spending. This $3 in new spending for every $1 in tax cuts is backward.

Budget officials in Virginia just reported that in the first quarter of this fiscal year, surpluses are continuing to be amassed in Richmond. Coupled with the official projections for spending and revenue for the next few years, the next General Assembly will almost certainly be faced with large cash surpluses. Continue reading

How Pass Through Tax Rules Raid the U.S. Treasury

American Institute of CPA’s map of states with a pass through entity tax rule as of this past July.  Many of those that haven’t have no state income tax anyway.  Click for larger view.

By Steve Haner

When the General Assembly was briefed on the state’s financial status last week, the $412 million in unexpected revenue growth was dismissed as potentially misleading because of some new quirk in Virginia tax law called the Pass Through Entity Tax or PTET.  PTET keeps coming up in these discussions.

Approval of the Pass Through Entity Tax in 2022, with some tweaks to the rules in 2023, has indeed scrambled the state’s financial forecasting. Virginia is one of 36 states now offering this tax strategy.  The Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee got a briefing on it October 17.  Before the boring nuts and bolts, here are the headlines.

First, PTET is popularly seen as a way to undermine the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s limitation on the deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT).  If you seek itemized deductions on a federal tax return, the limit for state and local taxes paid is $10,000.  Now that Virginia and so many other states have adopted PTET, the big loser is the federal government.  PTET adds to the federal deficit. Continue reading

Youngkin Team Cautious Despite Revenue Surge

Finance Secretary Cummings showed this chart to legislators this week and noted the deceleration in job growth, citing that as another reason he and Governor Glenn Youngkin remain cautious despite strong revenues. Click for larger view.

by Steve Haner

First published this morning by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy. 

Virginia’s state budget grew 90% in the past decade, far faster than in previous decades. After adjusting for inflation and population changes, spending still jumped 4% each year, a high rate of compound real growth.  At the same time, the state continues to see explosive growth in its revenue, pointing to cash surpluses continuing for some time.

These facts emerged from two presentations to the Virginia General Assembly this week.  The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) issued its annual report on state spending growth on Monday.  That same day, Secretary of Finance Stephen Cummings reported on the revenue results from July through September, the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2024.

In just those three months, revenue exceeded the revenue estimates by more than $412 million.  Other months, with larger pots of projected revenue, are still ahead.  Should this revenue trend hold, surpluses similar to the historic surpluses of Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023 could result next June.

During the elections two years ago, Virginia’s flush financial condition was inspiring debates about tax reductions and tax reform.  Some, but not all, of the proposals went on to pass.  But with General Assembly elections just over two weeks away, few candidates in either party are promising more tax reform or reduction efforts in the next session. Continue reading

Local Government Unions Raise Your Taxes

By Chris Braunlich

Subscribers to Netflix will soon see rate increases because of the Screen Actors Guild-AFTRA Hollywood strikes.  Buyers of new and used cars will, as a result of the United Auto Workers strike, see prices go up as supply dwindles and costs rise.

The current spate of labor actions – involving more than 420,000 employees – is a response to higher inflation.  However, it will also drive prices even higher, both through lost productivity and higher costs to pay for higher wages. Continue reading

Cline, Good, Griffith Outvoted in Bid to Secure Border, Stop CR

Rep. Ben Cline, Republican from Virginia’s 6th District

by Scott Dreyer

The federal government’s fiscal year ended September 30, and in what has become a frequent occurrence, the Congress had failed to present a budget for the president’s signature.

In the weeks and days before September 30, many politicians, pundits, and average citizens were debating what would happen and what would be best for the country.

The overall Democrat position was that spending should continue at current levels, including funding for Ukraine’s war against Russia. The thought of a government shutdown was portrayed as a potential disaster that would cut stop salary and relief payments to deserving Americans.

This position is seen in tweets on X, formerly known as Twitter, by Virginia’s two US senators. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) on Sept. 27 wrote:  “Extreme House Republicans have no plan to stop a shutdown, forcing millions of servicemembers & federal workers to go without pay. Shutdowns have a terrible human cost. We have to prevent this.”

On September 29, Virginia’s Junior Senator Tim Kaine (D) tweeted: “House Republicans threatening a government shutdown—which would hurt Virginians’ access to basic services they rely on every day—as a form of leverage is cruel and irresponsible. We can and should come together in a bipartisan way to avert a catastrophic shutdown.” Continue reading

DOE Response to Average Teacher Salary Issues

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

My article on average teacher salaries must have struck a nerve. This morning I received an answer to my inquiry from the Department of Education (DOE).

In short, DOE disavows any responsibility for the accuracy of the data in the report it submitted to the General Assembly.

The Office of Communications declares, “All data in the teacher salary survey report is based on data certified by school division superintendents. VDOE staff tries to identify as many of the variances as possible and obtain corrections from school divisions within the time-frame available each fall.” Continue reading

A Case Against Further Tax Cuts

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

After more than a decade of state budget revenue shortfalls and concomitant budget cuts, one would think there would be smiles all round at the news of revenues coming in substantially above the projections, resulting in a healthy general fund surplus. Incongruously, that was not the case.

Republicans seemed to be outraged that the state brought in so much more money than was projected. There were calls to give it back to the taxpayers. It is somewhat curious that these are the folks who often demand that government be run like a business, yet there are no demands that large companies, such as big oil companies, for example, give refunds to their customers when they bring in record profits.

Governor Youngkin, not satisfied with large tax cuts in 2022, wants taxes cut even further. In July, citing the expectation of revenues exceeding the forecast (which was admittedly on the low side), he declared, “There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to have a substantial tax reduction.” In his address to the money committees in August, after citing the advances his administration had accomplished with the increased revenues and the challenges still ahead, he announced, “This is our moment to soar.” But, not too high, it would appear, because “we must provide substantial tax relief.” Continue reading

Transparency? Hah!

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

Maybe it was the weirdness of amending the biennial budget after Year 2 of the biennium had started.  Maybe all the money they had to spend made them dizzy. Maybe they were in a hurry because many of them were in the middle of re-election campaigns. Whatever the reason, the General Assembly decided in its special session to adopt the budget to sacrifice transparency in favor of efficiency.

A quick review of the normal procedure will serve to clarify how different this year was. Normally, after both houses have considered the budget bill and rejected each other’s version, the bill is sent to a conference committee comprised of members from both houses. In a largely shrouded process, the conference committee eventually produces a report consisting of all the changes to the introduced budget bill that its members have agreed upon. (Comparisons to the Vatican College of Cardinals electing a new Pope are apt.) Continue reading

Virginia’s “Runaway” Budget Negotiators

by Derrick A. Max

(This column was first published by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy)

Fear of commitment is a common theme in Hollywood — where romantic comedies are replete with characters that sidestep long-term commitment primarily out of fear that someone better may come along. Think of Runaway Bride, where Maggie, played by Julia Roberts, keeps running away from her betrothed at the altar out of such fear.

The budget amendments passed last Wednesday with bipartisan support and praise from Governor Youngkin are replete with commitment issues. The approved tax cuts and new spending were written to have very little impact beyond the current budget cycle. Like Maggie, both Governor Youngkin and the Senate Democrats are clearly standing at the budget altar hoping for better options after the November elections. Continue reading

How They Spent That Money

By Dick Hall-Sizemore

Steve Haner and I unofficially tag-team on the state budget. Fittingly, he covers the revenues (taxes) and I cover the spending.

Regarding the revenues available for spending, it is notable what was missing from the presentations by the Governor and Secretary of Finance in their appearances before the money committees last month. There was no mention of the $5.1 billion balance tirelessly touted by the Governor in his public calls for more tax reductions.

In the presentations and charts presented, it was difficult to discern what that unencumbered balance actually was. Using the data in the staff presentation to the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee, one is able to tease out the $5.1 billion being touted by the Governor. First, there was $2.1 billion. This is hard to follow, but basically it was a balance designated in 2022 for “Additional Taxpayer Relief” and subsequently rolled into the unrestricted general fund balance. However, both the administration and the money committees were carrying it on their spreadsheets as an amount reserved for taxpayer relief and that is how the Comptroller identified it in her annual report to the Governor.  To that $2.1 billion the Governor added the additional $3.0 billion in general fund revenue projected over the official estimate.

That was a valid projection of the general fund balance at the end of FY 2023. However, as both Steve and I have pointed out several times on this blog, that was a gross amount. After deducting for the required deposits to the Rainy Day Fund and the Water Quality Improvement Fund, the appropriation in the “skinny” budget bill enacted last spring, and the amount required to fund the Pass Through Equity Tax previously enacted, the net general fund balance available at the end of FY 2023 was approximately $2.4 billion. Continue reading

Youngkin’s Partial Tax Wins are Still Impressive

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R)

By Steve Haner

First published this morning by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.

Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) and the legislators of both parties who have given him at least some of the tax reforms he asked for need to stop being shy and take a real victory lap.  He has been in office less than two years and has diverted $5 billion from tax coffers back to Virginia’s citizens so far, with more to come in 2024 and beyond.

Most of that was approved by the 2022 General Assembly and is now in effect for a second full tax year, but the 2023 General Assembly just sweetened the pot.  The long-delayed budget compromise approved September 6 added more than $1 billion in single-shot refunds and long-term tax cuts. Continue reading

The Virginia State Budget and the Rising Costs of Registered Nurses

by James C. Sherlock

I was asked yesterday by a reader about the relationship between nursing homes, rising registered nurse salaries and the new Virginia budget agreement.

Good questions. Virginia’s workforce includes nearly 70,000 registered nurses.

The state pays its workers, but it also pays its Medicaid share for private sector nurses. Pay for private sector workers is based upon market conditions. The market wage for registered nurses nationwide increased dramatically during COVID.

Perhaps the only good thing to come out of that mess was that registered nurses, of whom Virginia has 11% fewer than demand calculated by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, got very large pay and bonus raises, and the new wage points appear to have stuck.

If the laws of economics work here, that will over time increase the number of nurses if we can educate and train them in the required numbers.

The latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for all states show that the median wage for an RN in Virginia was $79,700 a year. In Northern Virginia portion of the D.C. metro area, the median was $92,800.  The underlying data are a couple of years old.

Wages and bonuses can vary a lot among Virginia hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, nursing school staff and government employees, and are higher or lower depending on specialty. The private sector offers $10,000 to  $20,000 signing bonuses paid out after the first year.

Employers of course must pay payroll taxes and other expenses related to employees, and thus their costs will generally exceed $100,000 per RN.

Virginia RNs are still underpaid compared to national figures. The mean annual wage for America’s 3 million registered nurses in May was $89,010 compared to Virginia’s $79,900.

The federal Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services, aware of some of the questionable business models of bad actors in the nursing home industry, published last week a proposed rule to both increase the minimum number of RNs in nursing facilities and to require all nursing facilities to reveal every year how much of the Medicare and Medicaid payouts go to salaries and related expenses.

So, Medicare and Medicaid costs will go up yet again. Continue reading

Which Virginia Taxes Have Grown and How Much

Click for larger view.

By Steve Haner

What a difference just four years has made in Virginia’s financial condition, with the state’s General Fund tax revenue having increased 31% during the period and its Commonwealth Transportation Fund revenue increasing by almost 36%. This is comparing the annual results for the fiscal years ending June 30, 2023, just released, and the same summary for the year ending June 30, 2019. Continue reading

Virginia’s Balance Sheet is Embarrassingly Strong

Virginia is floating on a sea of unspent cash, but tax relief fails again.

By Steve Haner

“Our balance sheet couldn’t be stronger…this is our moment to soar.”

So said Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin Wednesday. Every year, our governors come to the legislature to report on the end of the fiscal year financial result, and often they say something like that. They always prefer to bring a happy message over one of caution or doom.

This time, however, it is true. Continue reading