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Leader Gilbert Statement on Passage of Biennial Budget

Leader Gilbert Statement on Passage of Biennial Budget

House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert issued the following statement:

“While the budget isn’t what a Republican House of Delegates would have produced, the document signed by the Governor today is a significant improvement over the budget sent to him at the end of the Regular session. 

“Today’s budget contains no tax increases, and does not require that Virginia rejoin the failed Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. It reflects compromise, with both sides dealing in good faith to meet our most basic responsibility. Once again, Virginia’s leaders have demonstrated that Richmond is not Washington. 

“Republicans remain committed to making life more affordable for hard-working Virginia families.”

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Leader Gilbert Statement on Campus Protests

Leader Gilbert Statement on Campus Protests

House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert issued the following statement:

 

“On October 7, 2023, the terrorists of Hamas invaded Israel from the Gaza Strip. They came by car, they came by paraglider, and they came on foot. Over the course of hours, they spread across southern Israel spreading terror and death.

“No one was safe. Women, children, infants, all were slaughtered in the most brutal fashion. Women were raped, mutilated and killed. Babies were placed in ovens and cooked alive. Children were dragged from their hiding places and killed in front of their parents.

“By the time Israel’s armed forces managed to kill or capture the terrorists, more than 1,160 innocent civilians were dead. Israel, as was their right and obligation, responded. Their days of taking half measures against the barbarians of Hamas were over, and the IDF went into Gaza to tear out the organization root and branch. Those efforts continue to this day.

“The protests we’ve seen on our college campuses are not peace demonstrations. Students are holding public spaces for ransom. They are not calling for the release of hostages and the cessation of hostilities on all sides. They are open and obvious calls for the destruction of the Jewish state, the eradication of the millions of Jews who live there, and the establishment of a Palestinian state ‘from the river to the sea.’

“Nonetheless, even the most abhorrent ideas are entitled to the protection of the First Amendment. One may not be arrested for simply espousing these bigoted, antisemitic thoughts. As long as these protests remain inside the rules of these universities, they have a right to happen, no matter how nauseating and odious the views on display.

“If protests move outside of those legal bounds into the realm of intimidation of Jewish students, trespassing, or other illegal activity, they can and should be shut down with professionalism – something we’ve seen from Virginia law enforcement each time they’ve been called to deal with illegal encampments. Again, no one may hold public spaces for ransom, and law enforcement has ensured that such illegal activity is ended before it escalates.

“Virginia’s colleges are not preschools where petulant children need to learn basic rules and manners. Campus officials and law enforcement officers told these young adults the rules. They broke the rules, and now they’ll face the consequences.

“I applaud Governor Youngkin, the Attorney General, and our law enforcement community for the even-handed way they have handled this difficult situation. Some members of the House of Delegates — including Dels. Rozia Henson, Adele McClure, Joshua Cole, and Nadarius Clark — fail to recognize the unlawful nature of some of these protests. They have also associated themselves with the worst of the bigoted messages blaring from speakers on campuses. 

“Let me conclude by saying this: Virginia stands with our Jewish friends and neighbors. We stand with our Israeli allies, and we oppose these bigoted, antisemitic children and their tantrum to the greatest extent possible.”

“Am Yisrael Chai.”

 

 

Leader Gilbert Statement on Passage of Biennial Budget

Leader Gilbert Statement on Governor’s Budget Amendments

Earlier today Governor Glenn Youngkin announced his proposed changes to the budget sent to him by the General Assembly.

House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert issued the following statement:

“The Governor’s package of budget amendments reflects a genuinely Herculean effort to find common ground with the Democrats in the General Assembly. It retains the vast majority of their funding priorities, and it does so without raising taxes.  

“Even as Democrats refused to come to the table, the Governor has put forward nothing less than an olive branch of compromise. I look forward to working with him to see these amendments accepted, and the budget signed into law.”

 

2024 Session Recap: Democrats Just Make Things Worse

2024 Session Recap: Democrats Just Make Things Worse

RICHMOND –The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and the 2024 Session put down more than a few miles of fresh asphalt on that path.

That’s the overarching theme of the past 60 legislative days, House Republican leaders said during a press conference on Saturday just before the House adjourned sine die.

“Every single member of this body ran at least part of their campaign on how we would fight the higher cost of living that Virginians are facing due to inflation. Republicans had ideas to help, such as ending the grocery tax, and cutting taxes on hard working families,” said Republican Whip Michael Webert, R-Fauquier.

“Those ideas were summarily rejected. That’s par for the course when you’re in the minority,” Webert added. “But what we didn’t expect was Democrats working to actively make things worse.”

Democrats voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, even on farms, which will drive businesses and farmers out of business. Democrats also blocked efforts to let Virginians buy the cars they want by maintaining an electric vehicle mandate.

In addition to the cost of living issues Democrats exacerbated, they made things worse in other areas.

Education

“What Democrats fail to realize is that money doesn’t teach our children. People do. These are hard working teachers who need our support as they do their jobs,” said Deputy Leader Israel O’Quinn, R-Washington. “For two sessions in a row, Republicans have introduced legislation that would put teachers back in charge of their classrooms. If a student is unruly or disruptive three times, they can be sent to the principal’s office. If they’re violent, they go immediately.”

Democrats took a different path, passing legislation that makes it even harder to remove a student who is disruptive during educational time.

They also killed legislation that would have made it clear that school boards can create policies prohibiting cell phone use during educational time, cut funding for the Governor’s Diploma plus and lab school program. They defeated legislation that would have required schools to alert parents within 24 hours if there’s an overdose in the school.

And they cut millions of dollars from our school resource officer grant program at a time when we need more trained professionals in our schools watching for fentanyl and other dangerous drugs.

“Our teachers and students need help, and Democrats just made it worse,” O’Quinn said.

Housing

“Democrats spent a lot of time this session talking about how housing is unaffordable, and that they need to do something. What did they propose? They took two separate tracks – one, they attempted to bring rent control to Virginia, or as one economist described it, the fastest way to destroy a city, other than bombing,” said Republican Caucus Chair Amanda Batten, R-James City County. “The other was to put more and more regulations onto those who own rental properties, driving up the costs of doing business.”

“Democrats are full of good intentions, but they never take the time to see how their good intentions play out in the real world,” Batten said. “The end result is higher costs for those who own rental property or build homes, which lessens the supply. Rents and costs go up accordingly.”

Public Safety

“The last time Democrats were in charge, they made it clear that they were far more concerned with the comfort of criminals than they were with the safety of our communities or the impact on crime victims,” Republican Leader Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah said. “This session was no different. They brought forward budget amendments that will let people convicted of serious crimes out of jail earlier, particularly those who commit crimes with guns.”

Rather than focus on programs that work to save lives from gun violence, Democrats came after law-abiding gun owners in an effort to make life harder for them.

They also attempted to change the law to let illegal immigrants convicted of serious crimes avoid deportation, and they passed a bill to prevent judges and prosecutors from asking about someone’s immigration status.

If Republicans return the majority, so will results – not just good intentions.

“Next session, Republicans will bring forward a series of bills that will address all these issues and more,” said Leader Gilbert. “ Democrats have made your life more difficult. If Virginians return Republicans to control of the House, we will immediately pass bills that will make your life more affordable, keep your family safer, and improve your children’s education.”

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Leader Gilbert Statement on Passage of Biennial Budget

House Budget Passes With Major Cuts to Public Safety, Higher Taxes on Virginia Families

RICHMOND – Millions of dollars for school resource officers. Security for threatened Jewish students on college campuses. Teacher retirement accounts. Gun violence prevention.

None of these crucial items were kept in the budget on Thursday, as Democrats voted to raise taxes by $1.5 billion on hard working Virginia families.

“Budgets are always a work in progress until the Governor signs them, and while this budget does include a lot of good priorities, many of the choices made by House Democrats today are disappointing to say the least,” said House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah. “Hard-working Virginia families can’t afford to pay $1.5 billion in higher taxes.”

Worse, the budget has serious problems that will come back to haunt Virginia in the near future, said Del. Barry Knight, R-Virginia Beach.

“I have been to New York to talk to the three major bond rating agencies about the status of our AAA rating. They all told us they like the fact that Virginia does not overspend, and we have made extra payments into the Virginia Retirement System, along with using cash to pay for capital projects instead of debt,” he said, speaking on the floor.

“However, I fear this budget will not perpetuate that glowing endorsement for our state’s financial well being,” Knight added. “We need to keep it simple, and we need to spend less in the face of a declining economy. We need to continue to avoid taking on unnecessary debt.”

“I’m disappointed House Democrats voted against two public safety programs that previously earned bipartisan support: grants for school resource officers and Project Ceasefire,” said House Republican Caucus Chair Amanda Batten, R-James City County. “These are common sense policies, and it is unfortunate that Democrats refuse to work across the aisle to help Virginians.”

“For all the good things in the budget, I’m disappointed that Democrats chose to raise taxes on hard working families rather than follow the Republican practice of making life more affordable for them,” added House Republican Whip Michael Webert, R-Fauquier.

Republicans objected to a number of changes to the budget, including a change of policy that will let hundreds of violent offenders out of jail early.

“People who commit armed robbery with a firearm shouldn’t get a discount on their sentence,” Leader Gilbert said. “When this legislation passed initially, it was understood that it wouldn’t apply to violent criminals. Democrats have decided that it should.”

Democrats also voted to remove millions in funding set aside by the Governor for college campus security projects – including ensuring that Jewish students are kept safe after the October 7 attack on Israel and subsequent antisemitic attacks on many campuses.

“There are frequent marches down the streets of Richmond calling for the destruction of the State of Israel. And yet, this budget calls for the elimination of nearly $2 million for security designed to protect these students at VCU,” said Del. Chris Obenshain, R-Montgomery.

“It is the same at other schools, over $1.5 million for security at JMU eliminated, $2 million at UVA, and nearly $3 million at Virginia Tech. These funds wouldn’t just be used to provide security to students based on their ethnicity and faith, they would be used to provide security to all students,” he said.

Republicans also objected to the defunding of Governor Youngkin’s “Diploma Plus” program, which would have allowed Virginia high school students to graduate with an additional credential that would allow them to enter the workforce without incurring any student debt.

“The program— as funded in the governor’s introduced budget — would have helped up to 10,000 students with grants to get credentialed in high demand industries,” said Del. Mike Cherry, R-Colonial Heights. “I mentioned earlier the most marginalized students being beneficiaries of this program and at least 25 percent of the introduced appropriation would be used for students that receive free and reduced lunch or are at less than 300 percent of federal poverty standards.”

“These are the students least likely to be able to afford college or a credential program and are supposed to be the students that need our help the most and we are shutting them out,” Cherry said.

Other significant cuts include:

  • Cuts of $10 million for the development of comprehensive psychiatric programs
  • Cuts $1 million from a proposed cut youth mental health services database
  • Cuts $200,000 set aside to fund peer to peer mentoring
  • Cuts of $8 million for additional behavioral crisis services
  • Cuts of $18 million for police recruitment and wellness programs
  • Cuts of $1 million set aside for a Healthcare Workforce Training System in Hampton Roads
  • Cuts of $25 million from the Resilient Virginia Revolving Loan Fund
  • Cuts of $17 million from Project Ceasefire
  • Cuts of $11 million from SRO grants

Both the House and Senate will vote to put their competing budgets into conference in the coming days, setting the stage for final negotiations and a hopeful final vote on or before March 9th, when the General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn.

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