Virginia legislative session ends with no budget deal

Virginia’s legislative session wrapped up Saturday.

The 7-week sprint saw a lot of activity.

The official term for this day is Sine Die, the latin word for adjourned with no date set for reconvening.

If you were expecting big fireworks on some of the most contentious issues that really animate voters – there was chatter, but not much action – the realities of a Republican House and Governor and Democratic Senate.

Michael Pope is Reporter with Virginia Public Radio.

He says next year will likely be VERY different. 

"All 140 members of the general assembly will be on the ballot and so election year politics really loomed large over all this. With abortion, guns, transgender rights. These were are hot-button issues that not a lot of action happened on them, but they’ll all be able to take those issues to the campaign trail and take them to voters," Pope said, "So despite the fact that there wasn’t a lot of action on that stuff, you will see those themes repeated this election cycle."

Workforce development, utility regulation, legislation dealing with education policy addressing learning loss during COVID, all had compromise, Pope says.

But Pope added that there was real compromise on bolstering mental health resources in Virginia, particularly for someone in crisis.

It was something Governor Youngkin advocated for, and while some of the budgetary stuff is still being worked out, Pope’s analysis is it’ll be viewed as a big accomplishment of the session for Virginians.

"So the immediate crisis stage, instead of having that person go to a jail, have them go to where they can get services and get help. That takes a lot of money, and that’s what people are talking about right now," Pope said.

Governor Youngkin released a statement Saturday touting cost of living improvements, education, public safety.

"Our job is to make Virginia the best place to live, work, and raise a family. This year we have already worked together to lower the cost of living, restore excellence in education, ensure safe communities, and transform our government, but there is so much more work to do," Younkin said.

Unable to agree on several key pieces of the budget, including whether to enact the additional $1 billion in tax cuts Gov. Glenn Youngkin is seeking, lawmakers opted to pass a "skinny" spending bill and allow House and Senate negotiators to carry on with their broader discussions.

Youngkin added in his statement that he’s ready to get to work on finalizing a budget.

Attorney General Jason Miyares touted around 20 bills he supported that will get to the governor’s desk: crime victims’ rights, higher penalties for fentanyl distribution, human trafficking education to name a few.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.