Session Update: Week 6
Dear <<First Name>>,
The 2019 General Assembly session is entering its final week! It’s hard to believe the session is almost over. Even though it’s our last week, we still have a lot of work to finish. We have hundreds of bills to still vote on and send to the Governor’s desk, plus we are making final adjustments to the budget.
$1 Billion Tax Relief Package Approved
Good news! Not only will you be protected from the Democrats’ middle class tax increase thanks to Republicans in the House and Senate, but come October you will also receive a rebate check in the mail. This is in addition to any tax refund you will be receiving here in the next few months. Tax relief for the middle class was a major priority of House Republicans this year and I am proud that we were able to pass this legislation this year.
The legislation will provide $420 million to Virginia taxpayers later this year, in the form of tax rebates of $110 for individual filers and $220 for married couples. It raises the standard deduction by 50% beginning in tax year 2019, the first such change for individual filers since 1989. The bill also maintains the current rules for state and local taxes (SALT) and includes key provisions for job creating businesses.
In total, the legislation will guarantee at least $976 million in tax relief and ensure that all additional revenues from the permanent provisions of federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are placed in the state’s cash reserve fund. The legislation also conforms Virginia tax law to the federal law, ensuring Virginians will be able to file their state taxes without complications this May.
I am proud to have voted to support this legislation. You sent me to Richmond to fight for lower taxes and to put more money back in your pocket. It has been a very successful session in that regard. Governor Northam signed this legislation into law today.
The House and Senate have advanced similar budget proposals over the last week that work in tandem with the tax relief plan. The House budget eliminated all spending based on the tax increase proposed by Governor Northam. The House budget identified $120 million in healthcare savings and made a major commitment to reducing unfunded liabilities, eliminating over $700 million in spending over the next 25 years. The budget builds on our multi-year efforts to responsibly invest in a stronger economy, provide more funding and flexibility to local schools, and make college more affordable.
In K-12 education, the budget provides $155 million in increased funding, includes funding for a 5% teacher pay raise, and returns 45% of lottery money to local schools with no strings attached. Our delegation is still fighting for the at-risk add on as final budget negotiations continue. School safety has been a top priority for the House this year and the budget provides $12 million in school safety initiatives, including more funding for school security equipment, School Resource Officers, and other innovative solutions that will help keep our kids safe in schools.
The House and Senate will negotiate the final terms of the budget over the next few days. I look forward to supporting a final budget that is conservative and fiscally sound.
The General Assembly has already completed its work on a number of bills that are awaiting the Governor’s signature. I wanted to take a moment to share with you some of my bills that are already on their way to the Governor.
• HB 2555 extends the sunset on the local gas severance tax dedicated to road improvements, economic development, and water/sewer projects.
• HB 2557 adds Gabapentin to the list of schedule V drugs. Gabapentin is the most prescribed drug in Virginia. When combined with opioids, the risk of respiratory depression and opioid-related mortality increases significantly.
• HB 2558 targets cash clinics and pill mills by prohibiting a provider from requiring or requesting a cash payment from a Medicaid patient regardless of whether they participate in Medicaid or not.
• HB 2560 allows local departments of social services to create adult abuse teams that would allow experts to review cases of elder abuse and address systemic problems.
• HB 2561 is a patient-friendly bill that empowers local pharmacists by bringing uniformity and clarity to operating procedures and processes in audits by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Over the years our local pharmacists have reported audits to be overly aggressive and costly.
• HB 2719 adds multi-member LLC’s to the small business definition, affording them the ability to participate in the small group health insurance pool. Under this proposal, those small businessmen and women can participate in the small group health insurance pool.
I encourage you to keep in touch with me and my office over the coming months, especially once I leave Richmond and return to the district. You can email me at DelTPillion@house.virginia.gov or call me at (804) 698-1004. You can also stay up-to-date by following my Facebook and Twitter pages.