RICHMOND, Va. (WJHL) — Virginia lawmakers passed a budget on Wednesday that includes more funds for Southwest Virginia schools and the Bristol, Virginia landfill mitigation effort.
The budget deal also eliminates the state’s 1.5% grocery tax. Localities still collect a 1% tax.
Gov. Youngkin wanted the gas tax to also be eliminated, but lawmakers did not get rid of it.
Shoppers in Abingdon would’ve liked to have seen both go away under this budget as inflation remains a big concern.
“Anything that’s going to help us right now because everything just keeps going up,” said Melissa Hilt after filling her van with groceries at the Abingdon Food City.
The budget sets aside $2 million in state assistance toward the Bristol, Virginia landfill, which has caused residents to suffer from invasive odors for over a year now.
“I think it’s good to see a state-level government in Virginia recognizing that we have a problem here,” said Becky Evenden of HOPE for Bristol, a group that wants the landfill to be closed and has called for state funding.
Bristol, Virginia City Manager Randall Eads said the money will help the city implement the recommendations of a recent Department of Environmental Quality panel on fixing the landfill issues.
Schools across Virginia will see also see a 20% increase in their funding.
Bristol, Virginia Public Schools Superintendent Keith Perrigan said that would help pay for the district’s new intermediate school construction.
“I don’t ever remember seeing an investment in public education like this one,” Perrigan said.
He said the budget would also provide enough funding for a 10% raise for Virginia’s teachers.
Additionally, impoverished school districts will receive more funding. $158 million is set aside for at-risk add-on benefits. That benefit grants money to schools based on how many students are on free and reduced lunch.
Perrigan said that will have a significant impact in rural Southwest Virginia districts.
“Small and rural school divisions have the lion’s share of high-poverty students, that means more funding will be available to help address their needs,” Perrigan said.
$11.4 million is set aside for Hurley flood relief efforts. In January, FEMA denied individual assistance to flooding victims.