State and National Government

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia Republicans are outlining a tax plan they say avoids a “hidden” tax hike and is a better deal for lower and middle class taxpayers than Gov. Ralph Northam’s recent proposal. House Republican leaders released details of their plan Friday, ahead of the start of the legislative session. The GOP plan would allow taxpayers to itemize their state taxes even if they take the federal standard deduction while also increasing the amount of the state’s standard deduction. Republicans say their plan would allow Virginians to benefit more from the 2017 federal tax overhaul, which would provide the state a multi-billion dollar windfall if the state tax rates and deductions went unchanged. Northam, a Democrat, wants use the extra money to increase spending in certain areas and pad the state’s reserves.

Rep. Ben Cline

Newly-seated 6th District Congressman Ben Cline says there are limits to what a freshman in the minority party can be expected to accomplish, but he is ready to try. He believes some bipartisan agreement is possible on matters than include infrastructure funding and economic development. More from WFIR’s Evan Jones:

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Rep. Ben Cline

Two area congressmen were sworn into office today to begin their first terms. Ben Cline represents the 6th District and Denver Riggleman the 5th. Both are Republicans entering Congress on the day control in the House shifts from the GOP to the Democratic party. Cline says while stark differences exist, the two parties can work together where they agree:

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Cline cited infrastructure improvements — like Interstate 81 — and economic development as likely areas of agreement between the parties.

Del. Sam Rasoul

Roanoke delegate Sam Rasoul gets ready to go back to work in Richmond next week when the General Assembly reconvenes. Live in-studio this morning he also noted that with the fight to approve Medicaid expansion over, lower-income Virginians who need health care coverage are taking advantage of the opportunity. You can hear our extended conversation with the Democratic delegate about that and this year’s General Assembly session on the link below:

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