2024 Session Week Seven

This week, in a nutshell, was all about Virginia’s budget. In my opinion, passing a new two-year budget is the single most important thing the General Assembly will do this session. I’m proud of the House proposal and what it would achieve in the areas of public education, the environment, and supporting working class families. I discuss all of that in more detail below. Let’s jump into the updates!

First-Annual “Norfolk Day at the Capitol”

On Wednesday, we had our first annual Norfolk Day at the Capitol! Thank you to Senator Angelia Williams Graves for her leadership in organizing the event. It was a great opportunity for folks back home to come to Richmond and see first hand what legislating is all about. After an introduction from all of the Norfolk Delegates and Senators, our visitors sat in the gallery, where I had the pleasure of introducing them on the House floor. After that, some went to committee meetings where they got to watch the legislative process in action. It was great to see both new and familiar faces participate in our democratic process. I look forward to seeing everyone back next year!

The Budget Process

At this moment, there are three budget proposals: one from the Governor, which was released in December 2023, one from the House, and one from the Senate. Across the three proposals, there are significant differences in priorities. So what’s next? First, the House and Senate will negotiate a compromise budget, which will be sent to the Governor. Then, the Governor will review and amend that compromise budget. Next, the General Assembly will return for a “reconvened session” in April to approve or reject those amendments from the Governor and move final passage of the budget. Here’s a helpful visual from The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis: 

I wanted to share, from my perspective, some of the “highlights” of the House budget that I hope will be included in the final budget deal. Those highlights are included in the graphic below. For a fuller, more detailed overview of the competing budget proposals, visit The Commonwealth Institute’s website here. 

My Budget Amendment was Approved

In addition to the overall victories in our House budget, I was pleased to pass my own budget amendment. This funding will help more working class families in Norfolk and across Virginia obtain tax relief.

More specifically, my amendment provides $750,000 each year from the general fund for the Virginia Community Action Partnership contract to manage the statewide “Virginia CASH Campaign.” This is a state supported Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program providing outreach, education, and tax preparation services for Virginians who may be eligible for both the federal and new state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The proposed amendment would increase annual funding of $185,725 to a total of $935,725.

Meetings with Community Leaders

As always, I met with many local advocacy groups and constituents this week to learn about their legislative priorities. 

A productive meeting with the Education Association of Norfolk: we talked teacher pay, funding for school construction, among other topics.

The Girl Scouts arrived in Richmond to meet with lawmakers. This Girl Scout lives in Norfolk’s 94th District and she was kind enough to bring me a box of Thin Mints — talk about effective advocacy strategies!

These impressive students were advocating for more funding to support advanced robotics programs in Virginia’s high schools

Some of my wonderful constituents observed a meeting of the Courts of Justice subcommittee

While this was an incredibly busy week in which we passed a budget out of the House and dozens of bills, we took time to dress up and celebrate Black History Month & our trailblazing Speaker Don Scott.

As always, thank you for the opportunity to serve as your delegate. Stay tuned for more updates!


Phil Hernandez