12/16/2021, 6 p.m.
We were slightly surprised — and a little amused — by some of the budget proposals put forth so far by outgoing Gov. Ralph S. Northam.
His proposed 2022-24 biennial state budget is his swan song. He leaves office Jan. 15, and won’t be around to see how the new Republican governor, Glenn A. Youngkin, and a new Republican-controlled House of Delegates will carve up his plan.
So, in his waning days in office, Gov. Northam took a page from the GOP campaign play book and proposed several tax cuts, including a one- time state tax rebate of $250 for individuals and $500 for married couples, and elimination of the state’s 1.5 percent tax on groceries. He also pro- posed boosting state support for HBCUs, including $277 million to publicly supported Virginia State and Norfolk State universities and $20 million for student scholarships at privately run Virginia Union and Hampton universities.
We have one question:
What took so long?
But as the old people say, “Better late than never.”
Virginia’s state-supported HBCUs have been inadequately funded for decades, even during the Wilder administration. But during the recent gubernatorial campaign, former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder pounded on Democrats to provide more financial help to HBCUs.
Gov. Northam’s budget proposal for Virginia State and Norfolk State provides millions for building and operating costs, as well as student tuition support.
His plan also would increase from $4,000 to $5,000 Tuition Assistance Grants for Virginia students attending eligible private colleges or universities. VUU and Hampton are among the schools on the eligible list.
We expect Gov.-elect Youngkin will go along with these budget proposals, or try to best them. After all, he campaigned on cutting the state’s grocery tax and boosting state dollars to HBCUs, and during his first months in office, he’ll want to prove to the electorate that he can deliver.
We believe these funding initiatives will be good for our students, our HBCUs and for Virginians. But we will be watching to see what Gov.-elect Youngkin and the Republicans decide to cut from funding in order to achieve these and other GOP- targeted goals.