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On Friday, Governor Bob McDonnell introduced five pieces of legislation addressing various school safety issues. These are important steps we must take in Virginia to make our schools safer and communities stronger.
Here is a list of Governor McDonnell's school safety legislation:
HB 2343 School Security Infrastructure Improvement Fund and Local School Safety Fund; created.
HB 2344 School safety; threat assessment teams and oversight committees.
HB 2345 School Safety, Va. Center for; development of model critical incident response training program.
HB 2346 Lock-down drills; every public school is required to have at least two practices per year, etc.
HB 2347 Juvenile intake and petition information; threat assessment teams.
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.
The Virginia House of Delegates passed additional bills included in Governor Bob McDonnell's All Students Initiative on Tuesday. The House passed House Bill 2066, which eliminates Standards of Quality staffing requirements, House Bill 2098, which allows school boards to receive waivers from state regulations more easily, and House Bill 2083, which creates the strategic compensation grant initiative.
"Today, the House of Delegates passed several important K-12 education bills included in the Governor's All Students reform agenda," said House Majority Leader Kirk Cox. "The measures passed today will reward our hardworking teachers, remove mandates to give localities more flexibility with state funding, and promote early reading initiatives in low performing schools. Thus far, all of the major education reforms have passed with solid bipartisan support, and we are looking forward to continued bipartisan support for these important K-12 reforms."
Speaking on House Bill 2066, Delegate Chris Peace (R-Hanover) said decisions about how to educate our children are best made at the local level.
"We understand that a good education isn't the product of work done in Richmond, but the product of work done in classrooms and around kitchen tables throughout the Commonwealth," said Peace. "This legislation will allow local school leaders to make the best decisions about how to staff their schools and classrooms and they're in a far better position to make those decisions than anyone in Richmond."
Delegate Bob Tata (R-Virginia Beach), chairman of the House Committee on Education carried House Bill 2098, which allows school boards to more easily receive waivers from state regulation.
"The greater flexibility we allow our local school boards, the better equipped they will be to serve our students and their families," said Chairman Tata. "By allowing local school divisions more room to adjust and grow, they will be positioned to keep up with the unique needs and circumstances of Virginia schools. Not every school's needs are the same, so not every school's staff should be either. This bill is a step in the right direction, and I am proud that we have passed this measure, along with other items of Governor McDonnell's K-12 agenda."
RICHMOND, VA – Republicans in the Virginia House of Delegates held a press conference Wednesday to highlight K-12 Education initiatives. Five major pieces of Governor Bob McDonnell’s All Students Initiative will be debated on the floor of the House of Delegates Wednesday. Other components are expected to pass out of committee this week.
House Majority Leader Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) said his party was committed to providing a top-quality education for Virginia students.
“House Republicans are committed to ensuring our children receive a top-quality education that prepares them for the jobs of tomorrow,” said Cox. “We have put forward several bills that will take Virginia's education system to the next level. In all, our reforms will help empower teachers, promote accountability and transparency, and emphasize local control.”
Majority Leader Cox is also sponsoring two bills designed to reward Virginia’s hardworking teachers and help bring bright, young teachers into our classrooms.
The first bill, House Bill 2083, would establish a compensation plan that will allow localities to reward teachers based on a comprehensive evaluation process. Each locality will have the flexibility to design an evaluation process that provides incentives tailored to its strategic goals and objectives. For example, a locality could decide to offer additional pay based on student improvement.
Cox’s second bill, House Bill 2084, would allow for Teach for America teachers to teach in Virginia schools. Teach for America recruits some of the best and brightest recent college graduates to teach in hard to staff schools. Their recruits are often in the top 10 percent of their college classes or hold student leadership positions. Before Teach for America participants begin teaching, they must pass an intensive training course that involves practice in a classroom setting, community integration, and professional development.
“Currently, Virginia’s best and brightest recent college graduates who sign up to participate in Teach for America are sent to classrooms in other states,” said Cox. “This bill will simply allow for these individuals to stay at home and work to make a difference in our schools.”
Delegate Dickie Bell (R-Staunton) is sponsoring House Bill 2151, also known as the Educator Fairness Act. This legislation gives localities the option to extend the probationary window for new teachers from three to five years and clarifies the evaluation and grievance processes for teachers. This legislation has the support from many groups including the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the Virginia Association of Superintendents and the Virginia Education Association.
“The Educator Fairness Act is about doing all we can to evaluate new teachers and making sure they meet the highest professional standards,” said Bell. “We have a lot of great teachers in Virginia. This bill will increase teacher professionalism and promote an atmosphere of accountability. I want to thank everyone who has been involved in the legislative process. This has been a team effort and we are taking a major step forward today.”
House Bill 2101, which would create “High School to Work Partnerships,” is also being debated Wednesday. Delegate David Ramadan (R-Loudon) said this was part of making sure all high school graduates are college or career ready when they graduate.
“Education is about jobs and opportunity. We have to make sure all of our children are college or career ready when they graduate,” said Ramadan. “Creating high school to work partnerships will encourage businesses to take a hands-on role in educating our young citizens. This legislation will encourage cooperation and foster a stronger workforce that is prepared for the jobs of the 21st century.”
Delegate Stolle (R-Virginia Beach) is the patron of House Bill 2076, a bill that would reduce barriers to creating charter schools in Virginia. Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (R-Prince William) is the patron of HJ 684, a Constitutional Amendment that would allow the State Board of Education to authorize charter schools.
“All students should have the opportunity to attend a challenging and innovative school,” said Stolle. “By creating more public charter schools in Virginia, we can make sure all students have that opportunity. Public charter schools are an innovative way to raise student performance, increase teacher flexibility, encourage local control and emphasize accountability.”
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.
RICHMOND, VA – Highlighting the legislative achievements of the 60-member strong House Republican Majority Caucus in delivering real reforms and forward-looking investments to address the concerns of the Commonwealth, Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) today highlighted the positive results of the policy initiatives advanced by House Republicans this year. After cutting fees, reducing authorized debt, investing in core government services and depositing an additional $64 million into the Rainy Day Fund, the House of Delegates today adjourned sine die, bringing an end to the 2011 Regular Session of the Virginia General Assembly.
“The Republican-led House made real progress during the 2011 Regular Session and on many fronts, especially in passing a fiscally sound and structurally balanced state budget that funds core government services,” said Speaker Howell. “At our insistence, the final budget agreement includes no new fees or higher taxes. It has no earmarks for non-state agencies. There is no funding or debt for a new ‘Taj Mahal’ to replace the General Assembly Building. There is $67 million less in authorized debt. And, the accelerated sales tax is eliminated for 80% of retailers. Yet, there also are prudent investments in economic development, transportation, education, health care and other important services. Overall, we’ve had a very productive legislative session.”
Below is the outcome for a selected list of 100+ measures – grouped by topic – supported by the House Republican Majority. In all, about 1,600 pieces of legislation were approved by the General Assembly this year.