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The Thomas Jefferson Institute Applauds Governor Youngkin’s Actions on its Veto Recommendations

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Monday was not just the near total solar eclipse in Virginia, but also the deadline for Governor Youngkin to act on the budget and the remaining bills on his desk. As our Steve Haner wrote in, Governor’s Budget Compromise Eclipses Fears of Stalemate, we are generally positive about the approximately 230 budget amendments Governor Youngkin made. 

The Governor sacrificed two-thirds of his spending priorities while giving Democrats almost all of theirs. He did this while removing any tax increases from the budget and forgoing all of his recommended tax reforms (reductions). This was more than a good-faith offer and should be embraced by any member of the General Assembly, Democrat or Republican, serious about getting a budget compromise passed before the end of the fiscal year. 

Just before midnight on Monday, Governor Youngkin acted on the last of the 1,046 bills he had been sent this legislative session. The final tally was he signed 777, proposed amendments for 116, and vetoed 153. He will have a second chance to veto bills where his suggested amendments are rejected.

While I am sure much will be made of the record number of vetoes, Democrats in the General Assembly opted to send a wish list of bills to the Governor that they knew would never get his signature. Nor would some have even passed the muster of previous Democratically controlled General Assemblies or liberal Governors around the country. This is due, in part, to the retirement or defeat of the more moderate members of the Democratic caucuses in the General Assembly. 

It is also due, I am sure, to the desire to build talking points for the 2025 elections. Governor Youngkin did not shy away from acting to stop bad legislation. The policy choices facing voters next year are now more clearly defined than ever, and the assumption should be that a governor of the other party will sign those wish-list bills.

The Thomas Jefferson Institute had a list of eight key issues we urged the Governor to veto as we wrote in Sine Die and Veto Recommendations. We also spoke out frequently on three other issues which we will review below. Finally, we have urged caution about massive new spending on education and teachers’ salaries without broad-based educational reform or at a minimum, an update of Virginia’s archaic school funding formula. On those issues, we concede that political forces overwhelmed our view and became a reasonable trade-off for the vetoes and budget amendments the Governor ultimately made.

The future of the budget and the vetoed, amended, and reenacted bills will be determined by the General Assembly in its reconvened session on April 17th. While little to no negotiations have occurred since the end of the legislative session, we hope that little to no negotiations occur now. Governor Youngkin has conceded all the ground that could have been a part of negotiations had the Democrats been willing to heed the Governor’s call to work together. Now the Democrats should grab what they have been given and both sides, in many ways, can claim victory. No doubt, Virginians will be the main beneficiary of a reconvened session that lacks rancor but has real beneficial results in an on-time budget.

A summary of the Governor’s actions on the Thomas Jefferson Institute’s veto recommendations is provided below. All of these bills have been vetoed, favorably amended, or subjected to reenactment clauses — a positive outcome for our efforts and for the Commonwealth. I have also linked to the Governor’s explanations on each bill. You can also review our original veto reasoning (here).

·        VETOED Minimum Wage Increase and Expansion to Migrant Workers (HB1/SB1 and HB157). Governor’s Explanation (here).

·        VETOED Mandatory Paid Family and Medical Leave (HB373). Governor’s Explanation (here).

·        VETOED Right to File Class Action Lawsuits (HB418).Governor’s Explanation (here).

·        REENACTED Increased Procurement Set-Asides (HB1404)Governor’s REENACTMENT LANGUAGE(here).

·        VETOED New Business to Business Digital Sales Tax (HB 30, Part 4, 4th Enactment Clause). Governor’s overall budget explanation (here).

·        VETOED Return of VA to Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (HB 29 and 30, Item 381, Para. C). Governor’s overall budget explanation (here).

·        VETOED Sales and Use Tax for Localities/Schools (HB805/SB14).No explanation beyond what is in the Governor’s overall budget explanation on taxes (here).

·        AMENDED Bad Faith Claims in Motor Vehicle Insurance (SB256)Governor’s amendment language (here).

Other bills we opposed but were not on our main target list. 

·        AMENDED Skills Games Approval (SB212).Governor’s Amendment language (here).

·        VETOED Legal Cannabis Market (HB698/SB448). Governor’s Explanation (here).

·        VETOED Railroad Safety Requiring Two-Person Crews on Freight Trains (HB385).Governor’s Explanation (here).

If you want to thank the Governor and urge him to not cede more ground on these issues or on the budget, you can email him directly at: You can also contact your state representatives and tell them to uphold the Governor’s vetoes and amendments and to pass the amended budget without change. You can find your representative’s contact information here

Derrick Max is the President and CEO of the Thomas Jefferson Institute and can be reached at

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