Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: August 19, 2022
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Christian Martinez,

Governor Youngkin’s Remarks to a Joint Meeting of the Senate Finance, House Appropriations, and House Finance Committee

Chairman Knight, Madam President, and Chairwoman Howell: it is good to be with you this morning.  

Almost seven months ago, we joined together across the street in our historic capitol building to mark the beginning of a new day in Virginia. I am excited to celebrate the progress we’ve made – and discuss the path ahead.  

Seven months ago, I committed to work with the members of the House and Senate in partnership on the priorities that matter most to Virginians.  

The rising cost of living…  

Great schools for our children…  

Safe neighborhoods and communities…  

An economy that lifts up all boats…  

And finally a government that works for the people.   

We should all be incredibly proud of the work we’ve done on behalf of Virginians across the commonwealth, who are sitting at their kitchen tables dealing with these issues every day.  

The conventional wisdom doubted that we would be able to deliver – and I suspect maybe even a few people in this room doubted as well.  

But here we are, seven months later… looking back on a historic set of accomplishments and looking forward to the next chapter. Or, as I like to call it – Day Two.  

As we prepare for the next session, I’d like you to know:  

That I remain firmly committed to working alongside each of you, delivering for Virginian's, together. 

Our shared priorities – lowering the cost of living, giving our children the education that they deserve, keeping our communities safe, creating jobs and growing the economy, and transforming government to serve the people – these will not change. 

This will result in a stronger Commonwealth, making us the best place to live, work, and raise a family.   

As we look forward, I do think it’s worth reflecting on where we’ve been. For me personally, it starts with the love of my life, our First Lady Suzanne Youngkin.  

The same steadfast faith that she holds inspired me as a younger man and still guides us both today. She continues to be a fabulous mother to our four children, all scattered in their own life journey. And she does all of that while taking on the duties of a First Lady in an inspiring way.  

You know, when I’m at an event where Suzanne is speaking, and I’m standing behind her, I guess much like she’s sitting behind me right now, and I’ll look at her. And I’ll think to myself… “Wow, that’s my wife.”  

Friends that’s pretty cool. 

Suzanne and I have traveled many miles over these last many months, we’ve heard from Virginians about the state of our Commonwealth and one thing repeatedly stands out:   

Virginians can tell the difference between the way we do things here in the Commonwealth, and the way things are done in Washington, D.C.  

The first of those differences – and why we are here today – is our Commonwealth’s balance sheet.  

Our bipartisan budget that the General Assembly passed and I had the great honor to sign back in June laid a strong foundation and delivered on so many of the promises of our Day One Game Plan.  

Together, we provided $4 billion in tax relief – record tax cuts at a time when Virginians are feeling the pinch from the silent thief that is inflation.  

Together, we delivered on our promise to pass the largest education budget in Virginia’s history. 

Together we also included a record $400 million in new funding for law enforcement – pay raises, money for equipment, School Resource Officers to keep our kids safe, and a new training facility for the heroic men and women of the Virginia State Police. Demeaning police is no way forward – in Virginia, we support our law enforcement officers. In Virginia, we invest...and our Commonwealth will be safer for it.     

We also made landmark commitments to site development, a key part of our long-term plan for attracting new jobs and fostering economic development.   

As we cultivate the economy that will lift up Virginians, we must also facilitate a state government that works for Virginians… standing up for greater accountability, transparency, efficiency, and administering a path forward that rises above partisan politics. 

Today I formally report to the General Assembly that Virginia ended the fiscal year with a record general fund balance.   

Of course, you all are aware of the roughly $2 billion in unplanned revenue surplus for the fiscal year ended June 30. We all knew about much of that revenue as the General Assembly completed work on the budget back in June.   

But I am incredibly proud to share – and hope Virginians will be proud to hear – that our state government spent roughly $1.2 billion less than was appropriated by the General Assembly.  

And the combination of the roughly $2 billion in unplanned revenue and the $1.2 billion dollars of unspent appropriations resulted in a $3.2 billion dollar cash surplus at year end.  

Now, before we all get too excited… there are two important things to remember.  

The first is that the carefully planned budget that Chairman Knight and Chairwoman Howell negotiated anticipated much of these funds. The second is that it is not government’s money, it belongs to the taxpayers.  

On the first topic, over $1.2 billion of this cash surplus will be reappropriated, and another $900 million is set-aside for a constitutionally mandated rainy day fund deposit, including a potential super deposit.  

$585 million is reserved for the uses set out in the budget in expectation of these unplanned revenues: an additional $250 million for deposit in the Virginia Retirement System, $150 million to pay for I-64 widening project without adding to the state’s debt, $100 million for inflation-driven capital project cost overruns, and $85 million for economic development projects.   

And finally, we all provided $131 million to the Water Quality Improvement Fund from unplanned revenues. 

After accounting for all earmarked uses of this cash surplus, I have directed the Comptroller to assign $397 million for deposit into a fund for Taxpayer Relief.  

Our balance sheet is in a strong position and our substantial reserve funds have grown sharply from their pre-pandemic levels. Together, we are lowering tax burdens and making the critical investments needed to strengthen Virginia.   

The balance in the Water Quality Improvement Fund has tripled since 2019 — and that’s not including the $131 million deposit required from this year’s unplanned revenues. The balance in the Transportation Trust Fund has grown by two-thirds despite our dynamic transportation program, standing at $2.75 billion at the end of fiscal 2022.  

Our revenue reserves are set to reach nearly $4.3 billion by the end of this biennium... with reserves exceeding 15 percent — an amount that I expect no one in this room ever expected we would reach. 

While the statute requires every dollar of the surplus to be assigned on the balance sheet, the right thing to do is return unplanned revenue to taxpayers. Again, it’s not our money; it belongs to the hardworking taxpayers of Virginia.  

Last July, in one of the earliest proposals from our campaign we proposed sending refund checks back to Virginians. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do.  

When government collects more money than it anticipates – and rightfully spends less than it plans – it only makes sense to give that money back to the people who earned it.  

So make no mistake: the budget we will introduce in December, and the final budget that I would intend to sign next year, will once again include tax reductions. I am confident – that when we put politics aside and forget about who gets the credit – we will again get this done together.  

We can do this knowing that our Triple-A bond rating is secure.  

When I travel to New York in September to meet with the bond rating agencies, I will reaffirm our shared commitment to protecting Virginia’s reserves and the bond rating they underpin.  

That is another stark difference in how we operate in our Commonwealth and how Washington, D.C. operates.  

For years, Washington has spent recklessly adding to the federal debt year-after-year and running up deficit after deficit. The federal government has borrowed and printed, borrowed and printed… and now, the unfortunate truth is the bill is coming due.  

The result is skyrocketing inflation – the likes of which many Virginians have never seen in their lifetime. Virginians feel it at the gas pump, they feel it at the grocery store, they feel it in paying their rent or making a mortgage payment.  

These inflationary policies are stealing from every Virginian every single day. And they’ve led to an inevitable economic tightening across the country that could harm our economic progress here in Virginia.  

I know that Secretary Cummings has shared with these committees our view of what economic growth in Virginia really means. And, plainly speaking, we’re concerned less with formula-driven accolades and more with real results particularly when compared to our competitor states.  

In the eight years before our partnership began, Virginia was plainly falling behind. We were 47th in the country for job recovery coming out of the pandemic.  

Our economy had mustered growth of less than one percent in that eight-year period.  

We were losing jobs to states like Florida, Georgia, Texas, Tennessee, and North Carolina.  

Since January through June, we’ve been top 15 in the country for job recovery – adding jobs faster than states like Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina.  

With one hundred thousand more Virginians working today versus in January.  

We’ve recruited iconic companies like Boeing and Raytheon to build their futures here.   

And boy was I so honored to stand in the Science Museum and welcome LEGO to Virginia, which will now be home to the company’s first American manufacturing facility…investing $1bn and creating nearly 1,700 new jobs. 

Companies in Virginia are already seeing results too. Advanced Auto Parts recently announced an expansion in New Kent County. Hilton has committed to adding 300 jobs to its Northern Virginia corporate headquarters. And these results are being seen around the Commonwealth, with over 17,000 jobs in Southwest and Southside Virginia.  

As we chart a path towards normalcy, Virginians are returning to work.  

To be clear – while I am pleased with 100,000 jobs added since January, this month we saw the pace of growth slow down. Given the storm clouds spun up by failed federal policies, it’s now more important than ever to double down on the state policies that make Virginia attractive for new businesses. 

I met with the Governor’s Advisory Council on Revenue Estimates two weeks ago, specifically to discuss the challenges facing the Commonwealth’s economy. This is an extraordinary collection of business leaders that we can utilize far more than we have used in the past. 

The months ahead may be rocky. They may be rocky at a national level, but the consensus from Virginia’s top business leaders is that the Commonwealth can navigate these rough seas. To further ensure our own economic security and competitiveness, we need to get to work on a few things:  

We absolutely must lower the cost of doing business in Virginia. For counsel on how to do that, we have to look no further than North Carolina – a state that is systematically reducing its business taxes to attract more jobs and investment.  

We must also continue to reduce red tape. I established under Executive Order 19 the new Office of Regulatory Management to focus on our 25 percent regulatory reduction plan. Andrew Wheeler is leading that office, and I know the knowledge and experience he brings to the table will be invaluable.  

And we must continue to make talent and workforce development pillars of our economic approach. Matching skills and workers to the industries of tomorrow has only become more important. It’s why I am so invested in making sure our Community College System thrives, and I look forward to continuing to work with the new Community College Board to find a chancellor who can lead the transformation and growth that the system requires. It’s also why I want to make sure our veterans are coming home with great paying jobs, and tremendous opportunities, and a tax structure that encourages them to stay here, and not go someplace else.  

Speaking of good paying jobs, our students shouldn’t have to use all their paycheck on student loans…. 

And that’s why I’m particularly pleased that almost all of our universities have kept their tuition flat. There are two more institutions that Virginia students are still waiting to hear from. 

But before the good paying job and before the degree, comes the classroom. 

Together we have fueled a historic investment for public education in the Commonwealth.  

More than $3.1 billion in new investment.  

A 10 percent pay raise for our teachers.  

$100 million in lab school funding – to give students meaningful choice within the public school system. $1.25 billion dollars to leverage over $3 billion dollars for school construction and renovations.  

But money is only one part of the equation.  

We must also keep our kids in the classroom.  

The learning loss apparent in yesterday’s SOLs results teaches us that closing schools and keeping kids out of the classroom did more damage than Virginia’s parents could have possibly imagined. In math, we are still 16 points behind pre-pandemic levels. Shamefully, these gaps were much wider among Black students, Hispanic students, English language learners, and students with disabilities. There is an incredible amount of work for us to do to close this gap. 

For too long now, our students have been failed by a system that emphasized mediocrity instead of excellence. A system that let students fall behind instead of encouraging them to excel. Political appointees of past administrations systematically lowered accreditation standards and passing standards for schools and students and that made it easier for students to pass standardized tests, rather than teaching them to meet a high bar.  

In January, I said the shell games of accountability were coming to an end. I asked this General Assembly to lock arms with me to raise standards in education.  

And while I appreciate the legislation that you passed to restore merit-based admissions at our Governor’s School, the truth is, there is a lot more to do. 

 A lax approach towards excellence in the classroom is no way to have increasing results - and in the coming weeks, the   Virginia Board of Education will begin a process to raise the Commonwealth’s accreditation and accountability standards from some of the lowest in the country to the highest.  

Every child in the Commonwealth deserves the best opportunity we can provide.  

Let’s just recognize that we need to raise the ceiling and the floor. And we’ve started that path with the Virginia literacy Act, setting high standards and recognizing that underserved areas need more help. I was very pleased that you approved my amendment to put in additional money for reading coaches in these underserved communities.  

I will never accept the argument that says our kids cannot meet these higher standards. I believe that is the soft bigotry of low expectations. They can, and they will… and it’s up to us to set a high bar worthy of our children’s potential.  

Everything we do in education, of course, remains tied to the core tenet that parents matter. When it comes to what books your kid reads… and whether your kid wears a mask to school… in Virginia that choice belongs to parents!  

And I believe this can be the bipartisan basis for a much broader effort to ensure transparency in education and in the lives of their children. We can trust our teachers and local school leaders to act as partners with parents, where parents have full access and visibility.  

It’s not controversial. And it shouldn’t be partisan.  

With teachers leading the way at school – and parents fully empowered at home – the high standards set for all, we will make sure that Virginia’s kids have the launching pad they deserve.  

Speaking of home… in the months ahead as we begin to craft amendments to the current biennial budget, there are three pressing truths we must confront.  

The first is that we must do more to address the rash of violent crime that continues to plague many of our cities. Too many Virginians are waking up every morning to the television reports and social media alerts of overnight violence.  

We’ve seen an increase in the number of reported homicides, human trafficking, and assaults. 

That is why I formed the Violent Crimes Task Force. These efforts are already showing in Petersburg, Portsmouth, and Roanoke that collaboration between local law enforcement, state law enforcement, and national capabilities can make a difference.   

We also must address the pervasive mental health crisis plaguing our Commonwealth; it is exacerbated by the opioid and fentanyl epidemic that’s destroying families and eroding communities.  

Together, we can make our communities safe again.  

The second pressing truth we must confront is the realization that the cost to rent or buy a home is too expensive.  

Skyrocketing real estate taxes driven by inflation, a shortage in supply caused by over burdensome local governments, rising rents, and wait lists for apartments have become too normal in the Commonwealth.  

If we are serious about the rising cost of living in the Commonwealth, and I know we all are, then we are going to have to get serious about the cost of the places in which we live. The solution to this problem is not more subsidies or loan programs. Instead, we must tackle root causes behind the supply and demand mismatch behind places to live: unnecessary regulation, over burdensome and inefficient local governments, restrictive zoning policies and an ideology of fighting tooth and nail against any new development. 

The third pressing truth we must confront is that previously administrations left Virginia woefully behind schedule when it comes to meeting our Chesapeake Bay 2025 goals. 

The Chesapeake Bay is a vital part of the Commonwealth’s economic engine – and a huge destination for tens of thousands of tourists who visit Virginia each year. And let me tell you, as a Virginia Beach Boy, I am committed to being a great steward of this invaluable asset. 

Part of that commitment is the large commitment to agriculture best management practices in this budget that was passed this this past June. 

Again, I see this as an opportunity to do things differently here than they do in Washington. We do not have to fall neatly into partisan camps and retrench to our typical talking points.  

Just like with keeping our communities safe, just like with education standards, just like with meaningful economic growth, just like with the Commonwealth’s budget, we can get this done together.  

Togetherness is at the heart of the Virginia spirit.  

And as I travel the Commonwealth, I see that spirit firsthand. And that spirit goes well beyond the gates of Capitol Square. 

You know, as I stood in the hills of Southwest Virginia a couple weeks ago looking at the damage that flood waters had ravaged over one of our communities, I saw toughness, determination and resolve.  

When I attended the memorial service for the two fallen law enforcement heroes in Bridgewater, I saw gratitude for service and love for our Commonwealth.  

When Suzanne and I stood together at Jill’s House, an overnight care and housing facility for children with special needs in Fairfax County, I saw hope, I saw dignity.   

We are bonded together by a spirit of liberty, and together we have delivered during these first seven months. We delivered for the Commonwealth, we delivered for the People.  Together, we are making lives better for the farmers of the Shenandoah Valley, the workers on the docks and in the shipyards of Hampton Roads, from the mountains of Southwest Virginia to the banks of the James River, and all who are a part of the hustle and bustle of Northern Virginia outside of our nation’s Capital. 

Virginians are a talented people who are charting a path to a more prosperous future, with faith in God, devotion to family, and belief in the limitless possibilities of freedom. 

Friends and fellow Virginians – we have enacted historic change, and we’re just getting started. Just wait for Day Two.  

We collectively won’t rest until this is the best state to live, work and raise a family – and I know you won’t either.  

Thank you.  

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