House budget includes $95 million for rainy day fund, teacher pay raises and funding for school security
RICHMOND, VA -- The Virginia House of Delegates outlined its proposed amendments to the 2012-2014 state budget Sunday. The proposal includes a $95 million deposit in the state's rainy day fund, $45 million in local aid reversion, a pay raise for teachers and school support staff, new funding for school security and funding for 250 Medicaid waiver slots.
"This is a conservative and responsible budget that makes targeted investments in our core areas of need and focuses on our governing priorities: jobs, K-12 and higher education, public safety and health care," said House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford).
House Majority Leader and Appropriations Committee Vice-Chairman M. Kirkland "Kirk" Cox (R-Colonial Heights) said fiscal discipline remains the focus of the committee.
"On the heels of the news that our national economy shrunk in the last quarter of 2012, it's important that we continue to exercise fiscal discipline," said Cox. "We are proposing a $95 million deposit in to the state's rainy day fund, $45 million more than Governor McDonnell called for, to prepare Virginia for any economic challenges that may be looming. In addition, we are focused on making our budget structurally sound for the long term by ending budget gimmicks. This budget proposes $45 million to eliminate local aid reversion and sends that money back to the localities.”
The House budget also includes targeted economic development incentives, including $2.5 million for the creation of a Cyber Accelerator program to attract cyber security companies to Virginia and increases the angel investor tax credit cap by $500,000.
"Job creation and economic development continue to be our top priority," said Delegate Steve Landes (R-Augusta), Chairman of the House Appropriations Economic Development Subcommittee. "In the past three years, we have invested over $100 million in concentrated economic development and watched our unemployment rate drop to 5.5 percent. But we know there is more work to do. Funding the Cyber Accelerator and expanding the angel investor tax credit are just two examples of our efforts to continue to create a good climate for job creation here in the Commonwealth."
The House budget expands on Governor Bob McDonnell's proposal to fund a two percent pay raise for Virginia's teachers and also includes funding for school support staff, for a total of $62 million. The House budget also provides $12 million for higher education enrollment growth and $3.7 million to increase TAG grants from $2,800 to $3,100 per student.
"We want to reward and recognize our teachers because the selfless work they do is critical to the education of our young people. Educating our young people is critical to Virginia's long-term economic development. As they grow older, we want to make sure all of our students have the opportunity to attend a Virginia college or university. Expanded funding to encourage enrollment growth and TAG grants are two important parts of achieving that goal," said Delegate Bob Tata (R-Virginia Beach), Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on K-12 Education.
House Republicans announced on Friday the budget would include $31 million for school and public safety, including $1.7 million for school resource officers and $30 million for security improvements in Virginia schools.
"The $31 million we have proposed will help ensure that our public schools continue to be safe and se-cure places where students can learn and succeed,” said Delegate Beverly Sherwood (R-Frederick). “Working together, we can provide the tools for school resource officers, school security officers and infrastructure improvements necessary to ensuring that Virginia remains one of the best places to raise a child for years to come.”
The House budget includes funding for 250 Medicaid waiver slots, including 200 Intellectual Disability slots and 50 Development Disability slots, said Delegate Riley Ingram.
"The House budget includes $7.7 million in funding for ID and DD Medicaid waiver slots. Protecting the health care safety net for less fortunate Virginians is absolutely critical. This budget will mean 250 fewer Virginia families waiting for Medicaid waivers," said Ingram.
The House of Delegates is expected to vote on its budget proposal on Thursday.
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The Virginia General Assembly convenes for the 2013 legislative session on Wednesday. This year presents a unique opportunity for leaders in Richmond to build on our success in recent years and make real progress for the commonwealth.
In the House of Delegates, we are committed to a core set of priorities — the issues most important to Virginians. Our members, as part-time legislators, have spent the past year at home in their districts, living and working in the communities they represent. The overwhelming consensus we have gathered from Virginians is that jobs, education, a balanced budget and a well-run state government are their top priorities. We share this view.
Virginia has weathered the national economic downturn better than most states. Thanks to the leadership of Gov. Bob McDonnell and the policies set by the legislature, our state has a 5.6 percent unemployment rate — the second-lowest rate east of the Mississippi. But there is more work to be done.
We must continue to incentivize job creators by keeping taxes low, ensuring reasonable regulatory policies and developing a stronger, more vibrant workforce.
A pro-growth tax policy can encourage job creation. Governor McDonnell has proposed, and we support, continuing to eliminate the accelerated sales tax for businesses. Our plan will mean the elimination of the accelerated sales tax for 98 percent of the businesses originally affected.
Also, we are proposing a tort reform plan that will cut down on costly and unnecessary lawsuits. We will also continue to look for regulations that burden business owners. A group of legislators and business owners has formed the Business Development Caucus. They have traveled the state seeking input from small-business owners on what we can do to encourage job creation. Every step we take, no matter how big or small, toward making Virginia a better place for jobs is important.
Workforce development and training is another way to attract good jobs to Virginia. We need to continue to explore ways to train and retrain our workforce. One way to do this is by promoting workforce development awareness among high school students. For students who aren’t ready or don’t want to attend college, we need to make sure they are trained and prepared for a career after high school.
These are just a few of our many jobs-focused initiatives.
And just as much as we are focused on the jobs of today, we are focused on the jobs of tomorrow. Educating our young people is an investment in the future of our commonwealth.
Our philosophy on education is simple: A good education doesn’t come from Richmond. It’s developed in classrooms and around kitchen tables by teachers and parents. We believe by encouraging flexibility, promoting accountability and stressing local control over our schools, we can better prepare our children for the future.
This year, Governor McDonnell has proposed, and we strongly support, a pay raise for Virginia teachers. Working with the governor, we also support a plan to evaluate, train and improve professional standards for teachers. That plan includes giving local leaders the opportunity to reward good teachers with extra compensation based on locally established criteria.
These measures match our philosophy on education. They encourage local control and flexibility, while emphasizing accountability. By doing this, we can give our children the education they deserve.
One of the most important tasks for the General Assembly every year is adopting and updating the state’s two-year budget.
The budget is one of the areas where it’s very easy to see the difference between the federal government and Virginia’s government. In Washington, there hasn’t been a budget in over three years. In Richmond, we always balance our budget and have had three straight budget surpluses.
This year, we will update the state budget to account for increased growth in state revenue and to meet other areas of need. We are committed to building on our core priorities — job creation, education and improving the way government operates and provides its services. By balancing our budget and keeping our state on a strong financial foundation, Virginia will remain attractive for businesses.
Over the past several years, working as partners with Governor McDonnell, the legislature has improved Virginia’s business environment and kept our state financially strong. We have maintained our Triple-A bond rating and Forbes.com recently said Virginia had the best state regulatory environment in the country.
In 2013, we are looking to build on this successful track record. Virginians can count on us to lead and to make the right decisions for our commonwealth. Republicans understand what issues are most important and share the priorities of Virginians. We are committed to growing the state’s economy, bettering our education system and keeping Virginia financially sound because that is what is best for our people, our state and our future.
William J. Howell has been the speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates since 2003 and represents the 28th House district, which includes parts of Fredericksburg and Stafford County.
Statement of Speaker William J. Howell on Governor Bob McDonnell’s Budget Amendments for FY2012-2014
RICHMOND, VA –– Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) released the following statement Monday on Governor Bob McDonnell’s amendments to the FY2012-2014 state budget:
“The continued uncertainty surrounding our nation’s economic outlook, as well as Washington’s self-inflicted fiscal cliff, requires us to be as cautious and conservative as ever,” said Speaker William J. Howell. “House Republicans have worked closely with Governor McDonnell as he crafted these amendments, and we will continue to do so as the budget process moves forward.
“Governor McDonnell’s amendments include several items that fit very well with our legislative priorities – job creation, K-12 Education and government reform. The over $75 million in new money for education and other key investments throughout the Commonwealth represent our shared commitment to job creation and economic development in Virginia. The strategic reforms the Governor has proposed to state agencies demonstrates our shared commitment to continuing government reform.
“One of the biggest differences between Washington and Virginia is that we balance our budget here in Virginia. That makes our state more attractive to job creators and allows us to make key investments without saddling our children with debt. Our philosophy is simple: don’t spend more money than you take in.
“As the Governor’s proposals, as well as the proposals of Republicans in the House of Delegates, move forward, I am confident we can craft a budget bill that invests in the core functions of government and maintains Virginia’s sound fiscal position.”
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Mr. Speaker and Members of the House:
On behalf of my fellow conferees, I am pleased to deliver the much anticipated conference committee report to House Bill 1300 and 1301.
To say it took a bit longer than we anticipated would be an understatement. However, the conference report before you is the product of consensus between the two Chambers on amendments to the current fiscal year budget and a new two year budget starting July 1st.
With regards to the specifics of the Conference Committee Report, as we started this Conference Committee the number of items in dispute were not great, however, there were several significant policy differences that we needed to resolve.
From the House perspective, we were guided by the goals outlined by the Appropriations Committee at the start of the Session, which was to:
- Provide additional funding for both our public schools and our local governments so that they can keep local taxes low,
- Use one-time savings to fund non-recurring costs such as research, capital projects, and other infrastructure needs,
- Minimize the amount of new debt,
- Provide full funding of the VRS contribution rates,
- Reduce the burden on Virginia’s businesses with fewer and lower fees,
- Provide additional support to attract new industry and promote tourism, and
- Make the largest investment in over a decade to our colleges and universities, and finally,
- To protect the health safety net for those less fortunate, and to continue reducing the waiting list for families with a loved one in need of either an ID or DD waivers
Mr. Speaker, I believe that the House conferees succeeded in their mission. The conference report upholds many of the goals and priorities we outlined. More >
Emphasize the Importance of Passage During Tomorrow's Budget Session
RICHMOND, VA - Ahead of tomorrow's crucial vote on the Commonwealth's Fiscal Year 2012-14 budget, House Republicans emphasized the importance of quickly passing Virginia's biennial budget. House and Senate Budget conferees agreed to the conference report on the $85 billion budget before the Easter Holiday and localities, agencies and schools across the Commonwealth are waiting for final passage before creating their respective budgets for the upcoming fiscal year. This afternoon, Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates William J. Howell (R - Stafford) issued the following statement urging passage of Virginia's financial blueprint for the coming biennium:
"Under the leadership of Chairman Putney and Chairman Stosch, the House and Senate budget conferees produced a structurally balanced budget that strategically targets economic development priorities, funds the core functions of government and does not raise taxes," said Speaker Howell. "While the budgetary process advanced in an unconventional manner this year, tomorrow we have the opportunity to bring the budget process to an end with the passage of the conference reports for HB 1300 and HB 1301." More >
At a press conference after the Floor Session, leaders and budget conferees from the House and Senate Republican Caucuses discussed the progress of the 2012-14 biennial budget. Earlier in the day, the House of Delegates passed House Bills 1300 and 1301, the new biennial budget bills. Both bills passed with bipartisan support.