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State lawmakers advance plan to fix Richmond schools without raising taxes

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney

RICHMOND, Va – On the same day Richmond City Council is set to vote on a meals tax increase to pay to fix long neglected school facilities in the city, the Virginia Senate approved a city charter change that would require Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney to present council with a plan to fund schools without raising taxes or tell them it is not possible.

The measure must still pass the Virginia House of Delegates.

If or when it does, the measure would not take effect until January 2019, and thus would not impact the current meals tax vote.

Mayor Stoney, whose proposal to raise the city’s meals tax by 1.5 percent in order to generate $150 million in school facilities funding, originally opposed the charter change.

During November’s election, city voters overwhelming approved a ballot measure requiring the Mayor to present a plan to fund a school infrastructure plan without raising taxes.

Richmond Delegate Jeff Bourne, a former Richmond School Board member, is signed on as a co-patron the SB 750 and has said he plans on advocating for the legislation in the House.   His own bill, HB 1409, was voted down in a House subcommittee because it did not include a provision about raising taxes, which was included in the November 2017 ballot question.

Richmond City Council is scheduled to vote on the proposed meals tax increase at its Monday night meeting.  The Senate approved the charter change by a vote of 40-0.