Yesterday, the General Assembly completed the 2016 Reconvene Session wherein we voted on the Governor’s 32 vetoes and recommendations. This being the first year of the 2016-2018 Biennial Budget, we also reviewed the Governor’s additional recommendations for the budget.
As a member of the House of Delegates I work hard to do what’s right
for all Virginians, regardless of where they live. As your
representative in Richmond, I also have a responsibility to and take
great pride in looking out for the priorities of my constituents and the
localities I represent.
With the state budget, I am particularly concerned with making sure
that we get some sort of return on the significant amount of state
income taxes we send to Richmond.
I attended a forum earlier this year hosted by the Falls Church City
Republican Committee where a number of residents raised their concerns
about the way the state’s funding formula for distributing education
funds, known as the Local Composite Index (LCI), disadvantages the City.
This year, we did makes some progress to increase funding for K-12
education in our state budget, and I was pleased to see that we did our
best to do that through increasing funds that are distributed on a
per-pupil basis, rather than those that are subject to the LCI.
While I voted against the over $105 billion budget because it once
again failed to expand Medicaid, it did do a number of good things for
Northern Virginia and Falls Church and Fairfax County in particular.
Here in greater Falls Church, we are justifiably proud of our
outstanding public schools. That said, we’ve struggled with funding
shortages for many years now, as the great recession has taken a severe
toll on our revenue and therefore state support for K-12 and higher
In the new biennial budget, however, the City of Falls Church will
receive $6.7 million in direct aid from the state, up from $5.86 million
last year. An increase of about $460 per student. In much larger
Fairfax County funding increased by $34 million.
The budget also restores $34.4 million for cost of competing adjustment for Northern Virginia schools.
On a statewide basis the budget included language to increase the
state’s share of teacher pay by a $134.4 million for a two-percent
In addition to increased funding for elementary education, Falls Church
won another budget battle. Language was included in the budget to keep
100 percent of fines and fees collected by the local police department
here in Falls Church, rather than having to send it down to Richmond and
pray for its safe return.
As I said, despite the good news on education funding, I couldn’t
bring myself to vote yes on a budget that continues to shun over $6
million per day in federal taxes we’ve already paid. Virginians are set
to lose $3 billion over the biennium because we are not getting our tax
dollars back from the federal government and we are having to pay for
programs that would have been covered under the expansion.
Let’s try to finish this month’s column on a high note, though.
In October, Attorney General Mark Herring issued an opinion that said
that the General Assembly never explicitly gave police departments the
authority to mail tickets for illegally passing a school bus based on
evidence obtained from cameras mounted on the stop signs.
Legislation to allow those tickets to be mailed, just as they are for
red light cameras that catch people at intersections, passed the
General Assembly this year and has been signed by the Governor. So, at
$250 a ticket, there may be more revenue available in the upcoming
More importantly, drivers will be deterred from the very dangerous
practice of passing a school bus while children are getting on or coming