BLOXOM: As budget is passed, ‘Our commonwealth won’

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BY DELEGATE ROB BLOXOM

This is the final capitol report from the 2023 General Assembly session.

We returned to Richmond to approve a package of budget amendments to the last year of the two-year budget.

I was tasked by the Speaker of the House to be one of six delegates chosen as a conferee to negotiate with the state Senate.

It was frustrating because, at times, I believe that the Senate believed that its time was more valuable than ours when the members failed to show up on time or perhaps even a day late.

In the end, when we did have face-to-face meetings, we progressed through our work, and I am pleased with the final product.

Unfortunately, I did not get all I was hoping for for the district, but everyone compromised and our commonwealth won.

First, I will give an overview of the key points for all Virginians. The taxpayers of Virginia will see some relief by way of tax rebates, $200 for single filers and $400 to joint filers. This is a one-time event.

We agreed to raise the standard deduction to $8,500 for single taxpayers and $17,000 for joint taxpayers. We also agreed to exempt military retirees the first $40,000 income from the Virginia income tax, with no age restriction.

Furthermore, we reinstituted the sales tax holiday for school supplies as well as hurricane supplies. This will occur the weekend of Oct. 20.

On the spending side, we gave state employees and state-supported employees an extra 2% raise starting Jan. 1, 2024.

We corrected an oversight on the Community Service Board pay and added money to help law enforcement handling temporary detention orders.

This budget is the largest investment in K-12 education ever in Virginia. Over the past two years we have added $2 billion to the education budget.

We are trying to catch students up to their appropriate grade levels after the learning losses due to the pandemic were worse than expected.

On a more local note, farm best management practices are fully funded through 2025.

We also received a funding supplement to help pay more to teachers here on the Eastern Shore in order to compete with Maryland’s salaries.

Lastly, money was received for cost overruns associated with the new airport hangar in Melfa.

Upon ending the 2023 General Assembly session, albeit six months late, I pause to thank the district for electing me to represent you in Richmond for the last 10 years.

I look forward to seeing everyone on the campaign trail in the fall.

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