Budget, skill games topics for General Assembly veto session

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RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) —The Virginia General Assembly veto session is always held on the sixth Wednesday following adjournment, and this year is no different.

The biggest item, the state budget.

Also up for discussion is Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s amended bill on skill games, along with teacher raises and toll relief.

Youngkin unveils budget amendments, strips tax increases from budget

10 On Your Side spoke with Speaker of the House Del. Don Scott about what might unfold.

They are all big issues — skill games could get pushed off until next year, teacher raises at 3% a year over two years look solid, and toll relief seems solid, but less than hoped.

All of these things provide the back drop of a veto session that could have lots of long-lasting surprises — and many not positive.

Legislators will consider Youngkin’s 233 budget amendments and 153 vetoes this year alone.

There’s a lot of contention this session among Democrats and the Republican governor.

Scott thinks that, for the first time in Virginia history, Youngkin may veto the budget sent back to him by the Democratically-controlled General Assembly, though the governor has not indicated what he will do.

“I feel good about the fact that we will get a budget done,” Scott said. “This is part of negotiation, but it is probably going to take a lot longer because we’re going to send a budget back to the governor that he doesn’t like.”

The governor has options. He can sign it. He can choose not to sign it and allow it to become law. He can line-item veto it, or he can veto the entire budget.

Democrats think the massive number of vetoes Youngkin has made sets the wrong tone of negativity.

If House and Senate leaders agree with all the budget amendments, it becomes law. If they don’t, the budget goes back to Youngkin for final consideration.

Youngkin’s most controversial amendments are arguably to the “skill games” legislation that critics argue add, still, new restrictions and exclusion zones that would end up banning skill games.

“The budget was a bipartisan bill,” Scott said. “We had 11 Republicans join us in this day and age. That’s 20% of the caucus that was with us. So, we know that we are doing the right thing. We’re leading with a middle ground, common sense approach, and unfortunately, the governor has basically gutted that skill games bill.

“And I don’t know if we have the votes to override it … so it may be pushed to next year. I think the governor is sending a message to small businesses that we don’t care about you, and I think that’s the wrong message.”

Scott said the $67 million for toll relief is safe, but is much less than what he wanted, and he thinks a hike in the minimum wage won’t happen.

“The governor vetoed minimum wage,” Scott said. “I don’t think we can override his veto. that bill passed on a party line basis. So unfortunately, we’ll have to come back next year to deal with minimum wage.”

The speaker also said paid family leave won’t happen either.

“Governor Youngkin vetoed paid family leave, which tells me, you know, these people talk about family values so often,” Scott said, “but when it comes time to show that if someone has a diagnosis that they have to go take care of, then their spouse or their partner, they can’t do it.”

Youngkin also vetoed more than 20 gun control bills passed by Democrats.

“We also know that, unfortunately, too many Republicans are in the bed with the NRA and with the gun manufacturing industry,” Scott said.

As for teacher pay, a 3% per year increase seems good to go.

“I think we will be able to get them [i]n the budget,” Scott said. “We’ll be able to get the teacher pay where it needs to be and continue to grow it.”

It should be noted Youngkin supported no tax increases, or any tax decreases.

“We do not fight over tax decreases,” Youngkin said on a campaign swing, “but we also recognize it’s not time, nor will it ever be, for tax increases.”

Said Scott: “The Governor wants to be the person to make history and be the first governor in Virginia’s history to veto a budget. He’s showing us that he is trying to teach us a lesson because we went along with this arena deal. I think that’s part of it. … We’re going to continue to be optimistic that we’ll get a budget done.”

Scott also knows the failure of the Democratically-controlled General Assembly to fund the Northern Virginia arena struck a nerve with the governor.

“He lost focus,” Scott said. “So busy worrying about that arena and other things he lost focus on what every day hardworking Virginians are worried about.”

Scott thinks the failed arena deal at the hands of Democrats was a stinging defeat for the governor, and that could lead to a political payback not seen before.

“You know, I always say that’s why God created next session,” Scott said. “Every time we don’t get something done this year, we keep fighting and come back the next year and fight harder.”

At the end of our interview, we asked the new Speaker of the House to give us the veto session headline.

“What’s the headline of budget? The budget passed, the budget going to the governor’s desk for his action,” Scott said. “Will the governor veto the budget? That’s the question.”

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