With much of committee work concluding early this week, attention draws to the budget and how the House and Senate will reconcile differences in their budget bills. A conference committee to address those differences was called last week, and as in past years Senators Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) and Janet Howell (D-Fairfax), as well as Delegates Tag Greason (R-Loudoun) and Luke Torian (D-Prince William), will represent Northern Virginia on the conference.
In a letter to the budget conferees, the Northern Virginia Chamber voiced its perspective on a number of budget priorities the Chamber has been advocating for throughout the session.
- GO Virginia
- This important initiative ties closely with our vision of a Northern Virginia region that works together to drive collaboration on projects of regional significance in support of key priorities that move our region forward. The Northern Virginia Chamber expressed support for both the House and Senate budget bills include funding restoration for GO Virginia, and we urged the conferees to preserve that critical investment.
- Global Genomics and Bioinformatics Institute
- The Northern Virginia Chamber supported funding for the Global Genomics and Bioinformatics Research Institute on the campus of the Inova Center for Personalized Health. This approach to collaborative research and commercialization with university and private sector partners is providing a strong foundation to accelerate Virginia’s position of leadership in the areas of personalized medicine, genomics and bioinformatics. The Chamber requested the conference committee restore $4 million in funding for this program that is already delivering results for Northern Virginia and the Commonwealth.
- Education and Workforce
- The Chamber thanked the House and Senate for each presenting a framework for K-12 education funding that preserves key investments.
- As it relates higher education, the Northern Virginia Chamber urged the budget conference adopt the House approach to budget relief for Virginia’s public institutions of higher education
- We expressed support for $1 million in additional funding for the New Economy Workforce Credential Grant program, an exciting funding model that has incentivized high performance from the Commonwealth’s community colleges and is driving more Virginians to credentials for high priority workforce needs.
House Joint Resolution 693, patroned by Delegate Dave LaRock (R-Loudoun), is a constitutional amendment that would require the General Assembly to maintain permanent and separate Transportation Funds and limits the ability of the General Assembly to use the fund monies for purposes other than transportation– i.e., a transportation funding lockbox. The Chamber supports this effort as it is consistent with our position to protect funding dedicated to transportation, particularly now as our region is raising funds specifically for that purpose. In the case of an emergency, however, the amendment does allow the General Assembly to borrow from transportation funds for other purposes by a vote of two-thirds plus one of the members voting in each house, requiring the loan to be repaid with reasonable interest within four years. This is a good policy for funding that is so critical to the well-being on our region.
House Bill 1981, School Divisions of Innovation, sponsored by Delegate Tag Greason (R-Loudoun) requires the State Board of Education develop regulations for the designation of School Divisions of Innovation in which the local school board in the local school division, pursuant to a plan of innovation, shall be exempted from certain state-level regulatory provisions. The local school board shall permitted to adopt alternative policies for school administrators, teachers, and staff to meet the diverse needs of students and to improve student learning; educational performance; and college, career, and citizenship readiness skills in the local school division or any portion thereof. The Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce supports this bill because it will allow school divisions the flexibility to better prepare students for the 21st century workforce.
The Northern Virginia Chamber supports House Bill 1708 sponsored by Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) which is also up for consideration in the Senate of Virginia this afternoon. House Bill 1708
requires the Board of Education to consider for inclusion in the student outcome measures included in the Standards of Accreditation the number of industry certification credentials, as defined by the Board, obtained by high school students. House Bill 1708 is an important tool to help students develop the diverse skillsets needed to succeed in the future, and ensure that public schools are given credit for their work in supporting students whose career pathway requires an industry certification.
To keep up to date on the Chamber’s efforts in Richmond, be sure to follow the weekly recap and Doing Business newsletters, as well as participate in the weekly General Assembly update conference call each Friday morning at 8:00 AM. Call in information is below:
Call-in number: (641) 715-3580