(The Center Square) – Now that the Virginia budget has been finalized, business leaders in the commonwealth are expressing support for certain parts of the bill, but some disappointment in what it lacked.
“Gov. Youngkin and legislators agreed on many issues that are important to Virginia’s small business, including full funding of the commonwealth’s unemployment insurance program, but we’re disappointed that … some key issues didn’t make the final cut, like the three-month suspension of the fuel tax,” National Federation of Independent Business State Director Julia Hammond said in a statement. The NFIB is the largest small business association in the country.
“Virginia’s small businesses are struggling with a host of issues, from inflation to a lack of workers to the soaring fuel prices,” Hammond added. “So, while the final budget includes some important provisions that are going to keep taxes in check, Virginia’s small businesses still need help.”
In addition to funding the unemployment insurance program, the NFIB listed tax breaks in COVID-19-related programs as a win. This includes exemptions for the Paycheck Protection Program and Rebuild Virginia. The group also approved of changes to the overtime law and allowing businesses and individuals to purchase paid family leave insurance policies.
However, the NFIB noted the budget failed to include any gas tax cut relief, which was blocked by Senate Democrats. They also noted the budget failed to freeze the minimum wage increase and failed to provide an income tax holiday for small businesses.
The Virginia Manufacturers Association commended the General Assembly and the governor on the budget, but also expressed some concerns.
“We also share concerns that have been expressed about the exceedingly unique circumstances that have enabled a record-setting $160 billion budget,” VMA President Brett Vassey told The Center Square. “It will require discipline in future years to modulate spending as revenue, particularly Federal money, changes. Structurally balanced budgets that also return money to the taxpayers, who know best how to spend their resources, ensure Virginia is a competitive place to live, work, and play.”
Robert Melvin, the director of government affairs at the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association, told The Center Square there were some wins in the budget for its members, but that some concerns were not addressed.
Some wins he noted was the end of the accelerated sales tax and the delay on the polystyrene container ban. However, he said he was disappointed that there was not specific aid provided to the hospitality and tourism industry.
The governor has said he will continue to fight for gas tax relief, but such plans were defeated by Senate Democrats three times this year.