With another basketball ad, Youngkin calls on lawmakers to finish state budget

Governor calls General Assembly back to Richmond on April 4

By: - March 23, 2022 5:54 pm

Gov. Glenn Youngkin released a new TV ad calling on state lawmakers to finish work on the budget.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin is calling the Virginia General Assembly back to Richmond on April 4 to finish work on the two-year state budget and dozens of other bills left in limbo when the legislature adjourned earlier this month.

But instead of focusing on closed-door negotiations with Senate Democrats whose votes he needs to enact his package of tax cuts, Youngkin is returning to a communications tactic from his campaign: a basketball-themed TV ad.

“We’re going into overtime in Virginia’s Capitol,” Youngkin says in the PAC-funded ad as he launches a buzzer beater. “And we’ve gotta make this last shot.”

Youngkin’s PAC is putting $150,000 behind the TV ad, expected to air during March Madness games in the D.C., Richmond, Norfolk and Roanoke markets, according to Youngkin aides, as well as a five-figure digital campaign. It’s being funded by a Youngkin-affiliated PAC called Spirit of Virginia.

It was unclear Wednesday whether there’s been any progress in the budget negotiations between the Democratic state Senate and the Republican House of Delegates, and Youngkin suggested he’s leaving that to legislators.

“I am staying abreast of what’s happening and I believe that by April 4th they’ll have a budget to send me,” Youngkin said, speaking outside the Senate chamber.

The House and Senate are mostly at odds over Youngkin’s proposed tax cuts, including the governor’s calls to eliminate the grocery tax entirely, double the standard income tax deduction, and enact a 3-month gas tax holiday. Both chambers agreed to use one-time surplus money to give taxpayers rebates of several hundred dollars per individual filer, but the exact amount will depend on the final budget deal.

Democrats have been reticent about forgoing state revenues they feel are badly needed to shore up underfunded government services like schools and roads, but Youngkin reiterated his stance Wednesday that the state has “plenty of money here to accomplish all the goals.”

“I do believe we can and should have the largest tax reduction in the history of Virginia,” Youngkin said.

Youngkin indicated he had not yet taken his case to Senate Democrats in private talks. But he seemed enthusiastic about his ad, which he told reporters was “pretty good.” Asked about the strategy behind the unusual move of running an ad about pending budget talks, Youngkin said that, as an outsider, he came into office with different ideas about how to communicate.

“I guess maybe I’m not a normal governor,” he said.

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Graham Moomaw
Graham Moomaw

A veteran Virginia politics reporter, Graham grew up in Hillsville and Lynchburg, graduating from James Madison University and earning a master's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. Before joining the Mercury in 2019, he spent six years at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, most of that time covering the governor's office, the General Assembly and state politics. He also covered city hall and politics at The Daily Progress in Charlottesville.