The State Capitol. Photo by Markus Schmidt.
The State Capitol. Photo by Markus Schmidt.

Lawmakers will return to Richmond on Wednesday to vote on a wide slate of amendments to the biennial state budget, including more tax relief for Virginians and additional funding for public education, mental health services and urgent infrastructure projects.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin called Wednesday’s special session last week, just days after the Virginia’s Senate and House of Delegates budget conferees announced that they reached a deal that features a one-time tax rebate of $200 for individuals and $400 for joint filers, increases the standard deduction ($8,500 for single filers and $17,000 for joint filers) and removes the age requirement for the military retiree subtraction. 

The amended budget bill, which was made available for review by the entire legislature and the public on Saturday, also includes $10 million for the engineering and design work for what would become Virginia’s second inland port in the Mount Rogers Planning District, which encompasses six counties and two cities in Southwest Virginia between Wythe County and Bristol.

Sen. Todd Pillion, R-Washington County, who had sought the funds for the initial planning, design and site acquisition – which is needed to get the project started – called the investment a “down payment on a project that could transform our region’s economic landscape, workforce, and infrastructure” while benefiting producers and consumers in the Mid-Atlantic and beyond.

“While this is a huge leap forward, the work is far from over, and I look forward to advancing this project as we also prepare for the upcoming 2024 legislative session,” Pillion said in a statement Saturday.

The budget deal further allocates $9.2 million for Virginia Tech and potentially up to $6 million for the winning purchaser of the now-shuttered Central Virginia Training Center in Amherst County, if bids don’t meet a certain threshold. 

However, the budget did not include a previously proposed $150 million allocation to complete the widening of Interstate 81 between exits 143 and 150 in the Roanoke Valley. Senate conferees also rejected a $14.7 million appropriation to begin the planned transformation of Catawba Hospital into a state-of-the-art campus offering substance use disorder treatment and addiction recovery. 

Instead, they allocated $500,000 for the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services to evaluate public-private partnership arrangements for the Catawba Hospital Transformation Plan or “other potential alternatives for the provision of behavioral health or substance use disorder services, including private sector options.” 

The Virginia Power Innovation Fund, which was created last year for research and development of innovative energy technologies, including nuclear, hydrogen, carbon capture and utilization, and battery storage, will receive a $4 million deposit. The amount is less than the $10 million that Youngkin had asked for last year. 

The budget also includes $18 million in relief funds for Buchanan and Tazewell counties, after a historic flood tore through the area in July 2022, destroying at least 33 properties and damaging dozens more. Local residents have been waiting for the help from Richmond after the Federal Emergency Management Administration turned down a request to help property owners in Pilgrim’s Knob and Whitewood, just as it did a year earlier for a similar flood in the Buchanan County community of Hurley.

An additional $200,000 will be provided to the Buchanan County and Tazewell County Departments of Social Services for administrative costs associated with providing flood relief to county residents.

And the agreement reinstates the popular sales tax holiday for school supplies that expired this year after lawmakers forgot to renew it

The Fralin Biomedical Research Institute in Roanoke is set to get $1 million to research the efficacy of making electroencephalogram combined transcranial magnetic stimulation – a procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of major depression – available for veterans, first responders, and law-enforcement officers.

To counter the shortage of naloxone kits amid the latest surge in opioid overdose deaths in Virginia, the budget includes more than $2 million to purchase and distribute additional REVIVE! kits and associated doses of naloxone used to treat emergency cases of opioid overdose or suspected opioid overdose. 

Other budget items include $920,500 for the renovation of the historic Barter Theatre in Abingdon, $500,000 for the renovation of the Buchanan Theatre in Botetourt County, $250,000 for the Blue Catfish Processing, Flash Freezing, and Infrastructure Grant Program, $100,000 for the County of Brunswick for the conservation and restoration of the James Solomon Russell/Saint Paul’s College Museum and Archives, and $500,000 to develop a marketing and promotional campaign to increase visitation to the Carter Family Fold in Scott County. 

The budget also includes funding for several trail systems in Southwest and Southside, among them $12.5 million for the Craig Valley Trail in Craig and Botetourt counties, $1.25 million for the Peaks to Creeks Trail in the Lynchburg area and $1.25 million for the Tobacco Heritage Trail in Southside.

Lawmakers also directed the Department of Rail and Public Transportation, with assistance from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, to conduct a study to evaluate rail-centric economic development opportunities in the Bedford, Campbell, and Lynchburg region of central Virginia, including both passenger and freight rail enhancements that encourage intermodal and other non-intermodal market opportunities that may yield long-term success and growth in the region. This follows recommendations last year by a state study that evaluated the region for an inland port but concluded Southwest Virginia would be a better location.

Lawmakers also directed the Virginia Department of Transportation to develop a plan for the improvement of U.S. 220 between Martinsville and the North Carolina line.


Correction Sept. 5, 2023: A previous version of this story said that the amended budget included $10.5 million for Catawba Hospital. However, $10 million of this allocation will go toward other comprehensive psychiatric emergency programs or similar models of psychiatric care in emergency departments. 

Markus Schmidt is a reporter for Cardinal News. Reach him at or 804-822-1594.