Two Minutes: House Democrats Kill Every Outside Suggestion for $4 Billion Bill With Virtually No Debate

gshipley2021 General Assembly, Budget

Given no opportunity to participate in a public budgeting process, House Republicans today introduced a floor amendment in the nature of a substitute to HB7001, the Democratic plan to spend more than $4 billion in Federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

Democrats killed the bill two minutes after it was introduced on the floor.

House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert issued the following statement:

“Two minutes. That’s the amount of time Virginia House Democrats were willing to listen to any ideas that didn’t come from a select few of their leaders. They didn’t want to talk about fully helping small businesses. They didn’t want to talk about treating all of our law enforcement officers equally. They didn’t want to talk about helping children recover from a year of virtual education.”

“When Democrats shut down the amendment process for this legislation, they told millions of Virginians that their input didn’t matter. When they killed every single idea that didn’t come out of the smoke filled room, they told millions of Virginians that they simply don’t care.”

House Caucus Chair Kathy Byron issued the following statement:

“Our proposal was put together very quickly due to the constraints put in place by the majority. We wanted to focus on fully protecting our small businesses from a devastating tax hike, bringing a proven violence prevention program to communities across the Commonwealth, and ensuring that our children have adequate facilities to learn. We also didn’t feel it was prudent to leave Governor Northam $1 billion blank check.”

Highlights from the Republican Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute

• Fully restores the unemployment trust fund, avoiding a massive tax increase on small businesses in January.

• Amends the $250 million in school funding, allowing it to be used for renovation, not just HVAC work, and changes the funding formula from average daily membership to the composite index, protecting smaller school systems.

• Implements Project Ceasefire across the Commonwealth, a proven gun violence reduction strategy that does not include gun control.

• Creates a $500 per student grant to help parents and their children bounce back from learning loss

• Provides a $5,000 bonus to every sworn law enforcement officer and correctional officer in Virginia, including local police and regional jail personnel — two groups left out in the original Democratic bill.

• Adopts language that ensures our students get a complete history education, but are not sorted by race or made to feel responsible for the failings of past generations.

• Removes a $1 billion-plus “slush fund” that would have let the Governor spend money without legislative approval, and requiring that he get legislative assent before appropriating any new grants.