Dear Prince William friends, families, and neighbors,
I am typing these words of good news on Friday night on the Floor of the Virginia House of Delegates in Richmond. We just now adjourned the 2016 legislative session of the Virginia General Assembly with approval of a bipartisan two-year Virginia state budget. The good news: The budget is balanced, cautious, sensible, and doesn’t increase taxes or fees.
I’ll hit the highlights of the budget for you, but first a personal word. I haven’t emailed you for two months, and it’s for a reason. In late January, my father lost a long-fought battle with cancer, which necessitated my taking leave for two weeks from our 2016 legislative session and spending time with family in our hometown of Roanoke, VA. After returning to Richmond, my full attention was focused on moving my bills through the legislative process in a compressed timeframe. During my absence from Richmond and the aftermath, many of my colleagues, and many of you in Prince William County, expressed your sorrow at my family’s loss. We were overwhelmed by the outpouring, and I expressed my family’s sentiments on the House floor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8ZWA_Uq4WY
Now, back to the budget. As a member of the 22-member House Appropriations Committee (HAC), I have been engaged since December with crafting the budget, along with two other Prince William County legislators, Del. Scott M. Lingamfelter (R-31st) and Del. Luke M. Torian (D-52nd). I serve on three HAC subcommittee (Public Safety, Transportation, and Higher Education), so I had a hand in developing these three parts of the budget.
Here in bullet fashion are the highlights of the budget we approved tonight:
- It was passed by large margins in a spirit of bipartisan cooperation in both houses of the General Assembly.
- It was completed early, permitting the General Assembly to adjourn one day early, saving taxpayers $25,000.
- It is balanced, fair, and cautious. Unlike the federal government, we build the budget like you build your family budget, with common sense and without gimmicks.
- It doesn’t increase taxes or fees.
- It represents a spending decrease of 5% over the last 10 years, when adjusted for population and inflation.
- It funds the core functions of state government from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2018.
- It eliminates state liabilities, reduces borrowing, and makes one-time investments rather than committing to long-term spending.
- It funds investments in economic development to grow businesses and create jobs.
- It invests $73M more for K-12 public education than Gov. McAuliffe proposed, for a total of $900M.
- It includes $36M for Cost to Compete for school employees in Northern Virginia (a budget amendment that I co-patroned).
- It includes $100K for the VaSTAR (Virginia Student Training and Refurbishment Program) administered by PWC Schools (a budget amendment for which I was Chief Patron).
- It invests $78M more for higher education than Gov. McAuliffe proposed.
- It includes $114M for operations and maintenance at colleges and universities and $48M for undergraduate financial aid to hold the line on tuition increases.
- It includes a 2% teacher pay raise, a 2% pay raise for state-supported local employees, and a 3% pay raise for state employees and state police.
- It deposits $605M in the state rainy day fund to raise the balance to $845M in two years as a hedge against the unforeseen.
- It funds the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) at 100% of the Board-certified rate (two years early). It repays VRS $189.5M owed from a funding deferral in 2010 (six years early).
While this is a lot of information, it’s not all-inclusive, so click here for details on the budget: https://budget.lis.virginia.gov/amendments/2016/1
Early on Saturday morning, I’ll drive back to Prince William County and look forward to reengaging with community life and being home with Ruth and our family. Although the General Assembly session has ended, my duty to you has not. If I may assist you or your family in any way, please don’t hesitate to call or email. I’m easily reached at DelRAnderson@house.virginia.gov or at our legislative district office (571-264-9983). My legislative aide, Ryan Galloway, is at RGalloway@house.virginia.gov. If your need is urgent and can’t wait until the next business day, please call my Woodbridge home at 703-730-1380. We’re here for you!
As I return home to a more normal schedule, I’ll update you on a more regular basis. And in the coming week, I’ll send you a summary of the bills I patroned during our just-completed session and seek your input.
Many thanks for the privilege of serving you and your family at home and in Richmond!
RICHARD L. ANDERSON
Delegate, 51st House District
Virginia General Assembly