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 House of Delegates passed emergency legislation Monday to make changes to Virginia's electric utility regulation law. The legislation, carried by Delegate Terry Kilgore (R-Scott) will eliminate renewable portfolio standard (RPS) adders and streamline how the State Corporation Commission reviews the base rate cases of Dominion Power and Appalachian Power, Virginia's two largest investor-owned electric utilities.
"House Bill 2261 changes Virginia's electric utility regulation law in order to eliminate the renewable portfolio standard adders and streamline how the SCC will review the base rate cases of Virginia's two largest investor-owned electric utilities," said Delegate Kilgore, Chairman of the House Committee on Commerce and Labor. "This legislation could significantly lower electric costs for Virginia businesses and families, while also ensuring the State Corporation Commission has the time and resources it needs to review rate cases of the utility companies."
The legislation was the result of a compromise between the utility companies and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who has said that the RPS adders could cost Virginia customers more than necessary if not eliminated.
"Attorney General Cuccinelli has taken the lead on making this legislation happen," said Delegate Kilgore. "The result is a bill that will benefit Virginia's businesses and families by lowering electric costs and making sure future rate cases are thoroughly reviewed and vetted before being passed. The Attorney General's leadership has been critical in making this happen."
"For families and businesses all across the Commonwealth, but especially in economically distressed areas like Southern Virginia, this legislation is welcome news," said Delegate Charles Poindexter (R-Franklin), who represents part of the Appalachian Power service area. "The cost of electricity impacts our businesses, by driving up the costs associated with running machinery and equipment, our families who are trying to buy groceries and gas on tight budgets, and our senior citizens who live on a fixed income. This legislation is an important step in making sure we do all we can to keep costs down now and in the future."
RICHMOND, VA - Delegate Joe May (R-Loudon), Chair of the House Transportation Committee, released the following statement Tuesday in support of Governor Bob McDonnell's transportation proposal:
"I am very pleased and excited that we are finally getting serious about tackling Virginia's transportation challenges. Governor McDonnell has laid out an innovative and bold proposal that addresses Virginia’s long-term transportation needs.
"There is a great deal of work to be done to finalize this proposal. I am confident that working with the Governor, the House of Delegates can pass a bill on transportation this year.
"I cannot stress enough, however, the importance of addressing transportation. Transportation is about jobs. A fundamentally strong transportation infrastructure is critical to continued growth and economic development.
"I want to commend Governor McDonnell, Speaker Howell, Delegate Hugo and Senator Newman for developing an innovative and serious proposal, and I look forward to working with all of them to develop a final package that will pass the House of Delegates."
Delegate May is the Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and represents parts of Clarke, Frederick and Loudon Counties.
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RICHMOND, VA –– Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford), Majority Leader M. Kirkland “Kirk” Cox (R-Colonial Heights) and Delegate Beverly J. Sherwood (R-Winchester), Chair of the House Appropriations Public Safety Subcommittee, announced Thursday that Republicans in the House of Delegates will propose expanding a school resource officer grant program when the General Assembly convenes in January.
“The tragedy in Connecticut is heartbreaking. As the Newtown community begins a healing process that will last longer than we can ever imagine, our thoughts naturally turn to our own children,” said Speaker William J. Howell. “We must look closely at everything we can to make sure our children, schools and communities are safe. This includes evaluating school safety, our mental health laws and services, and our gun laws.”
“Today, we are announcing our intent to expand funding for a school resource officer grant program to encourage the creation of school resource officer positions in Virginia elementary schools. This is a critical step toward making sure all of our schools are as safe as possible,” said Speaker Howell.
The already-existing grant program promotes establishing school resource officers. The program will be expanded through an amendment to the biennial budget.
“Classrooms are a place for developing a love for learning, not violence. We must do everything we can to keep it that way,” said House Majority Leader Kirk Cox. “School resource officers play a vital role in promoting safety and educating our young people about drugs, violence and a host of other issues. They are often community members whom children look to as mentors and role models. Fully-integrated school resource officers are the eyes and ears of our schools. Their awareness and training adds an important safety dimension to our school systems that cannot be understated.”
House Appropriations Subcommittee Chair Beverly J. Sherwood pointed to the success of the program in creating school resource officer positions in the past.
“When this program was originally established, the intent was to promote establishing school resource officers in high schools and middle schools. Today, 80 percent of Virginia’s high schools and middle schools have full-time school resource officers. Unfortunately, only about 25 percent of elementary schools have assigned school resource officers, many of which serve multiple schools,” said Delegate Sherwood. “The expansion of this program will encourage the hiring of full-time school resource officers in Virginia elementary schools.”
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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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RICHMOND, VA - Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates William J. Howell (R-Stafford) today announced elections by the Virginia General Assembly to fill vacancies on the Virginia Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. Judge Cleo E. Powell and Judge Elizabeth A. McClanahan were elected unanimously to fill the judicial seats vacated by Lawrence Koontz Jr. and Leroy Hassell Sr. McClanahan and Powell will assume their offices August 1, beginning a 12-year term on Virginia's highest bench.