is working hard on issues of import to your city. Feel free to contact
us directly with questions. We need speakers interested in the issues
below and would appreciate your support. We will be sending out requests
for legislative feedback as well and appreciate quick responses. VFC
will hold a legislative briefing during VML/VACo Day on Thursday,
February 9th, around 10:30 at the Richmond Marriott. Please let us know
whether you plan to attend by contacting Jamie Crawford.
Please feel free to send legislative requests and responses to me and/or Jamie Crawford.
-No 3rd Grade history or science SOL test; ($2M) in FY13 and FY14
-$13M in FY13; $7M in FY14
Sen. Y. Miller; Sen. Puckett
-Any Funds not expended shall go to revitalization efforts
-$2M in FY13 and FY14
Del. O. Ware
VFC Requested Budget Amendments: VFC budget requests are targeted to areas with a disproportionate impact on our cities.
3rd Grade Reading Specialists
- Since the recent JLARC study on the importance of 3rd grade reading
requested by Sen. John Miller, VFC shared this priority with the
Secretary of Education last fall. VFC prioritized Reading Specialists
(work with struggling students), submitted by Sen. Blevins, Del. BaCote
and Del. Tata. Reading Specialists have been approved by the Board of
Education, yet they have not been funded in the Standards of Quality.
Literacy Coaches - (train the teachers with best reading practices) was submitted by Del. BaCote and Sen. Blevins.
appears that the governor is also recognizing the value of 3rd grade
reading. A great deal of attention has been focused on its importance.
Governor McDonnell recently announced executive amendments to the
budget, including $8.2 million to fully fund 3rd grade reading
intervention services to students in grades 3 and 4 who demonstrate
deficiencies based on the SOL reading test or other reading diagnostic
test. VFC supports this effort.
3rd Grade Science and History SOL
- VFC supports efforts to delete the 3rd grade science and history SOL
testing requirement without eliminating the curricula. Sen. John Miller
also introduced legislation, SB 185, that would require only math and
English SOLS for 3rd graders (see
http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?121+sum+SB185). This action
creates a savings of $2 million per year and these funds could be added
to other at risk education programs like preschool rebenchmarking or 3rd
grade reading. Del. Tata and Sen. Blevins introduced budget
- VFC has requested budget amendments to reinstate this program that
provided supplemental funding to localities that lost ADM or student
enrollment to soften the impact. The impact on some of our cities is
significant and localities not on the list this year may find themselves
in a deficit later. The funding was eliminated in 2010 because of the
impact of the recession. Senators Y. Miller, Puckett and Del. McClellan
each submitted budget amendments at our request.
- VFC requested budget amendments to rebenchmark or index VPI payments
for inflation. The state's portion of the per pupil amount of $6,000 per
pupil has not been increased since 2005. Costs continue to increase and
this important program should be properly funded. Del. Onzlee Ware
introduced a budget amendment for $2 million/year.
Enterprise Zone Funding
- After successfully advocating for a $3 million increase to this
successful program last year to address a serious proration problem
(business owners were receiving 65 cents per dollar awarded), the
program was not fully spent for the first time in many years (there was a
$27,000 surplus in June 2011) the governor cut the budget by $1.5
million in each year of the biennium. EZs are extremely successful
tools. In fact, 63% of 2009 awards were given to VFC localities. EZs
create jobs and a high level of private investment in distressed
communities. VFC requested Del. Ingram and Sen. Puckett to introduce
budget amendments that require that any remaining funds not distributed
by the end of budget year go to revitalization efforts.
- Gov. McDonnell included $600,000 per year to support the fund that
would provide Level II Assessments of properties that have been deemed
brownfields due to their uncertain environmental status. If adopted, 40
properties could be assessed and potentially put into use, generating
revenue and creating needed jobs. VFC requested this amendment.
VFC Supported Budget Amendments
Aid to Localities with Police Departments (599 funding)
- VFC is working with VML by supporting budget amendments to increase
funding by the rate of revenue growth as required by law. Gov.
McDonnell's 2012-2014 budget level funded police funding, though state
projections require a 3.3% increase in FY13. VML - requested amendments
the House, Budget Item 395 #1h would add $5.7 million in FY13 to the
program. The chief patron is Del. Riley Ingram. Co-patrons are
Delegates Mamye BaCote, Dickie Bell, Annie Crockett-Stark, Gordon
Helsel, Donald Merricks, John O'Bannon, and Joseph Yost.
In the Senate, Budget Item 395 #1s would also add $5.7 million to the program in FY13. The chief patron is Sen. Frank Ruff.
Aid to Localities
- ATL - VFC also supports eliminating this requirement that requires
localities to write a check to the state. While the governor reduced the
amount from $60 million per year to $50 million per year in his budget,
we support eliminating it altogether. VML has requested budget
amendments to remove this requirement. We strongly support it as it has a
disproportionate impact on our members because the programs in the base
are widely used by our cities.
Legislative Summaries - Our full summary list is attached and below are a few items for your review.
- The City of Richmond's bills that allow localities to serve as a
receiver from the circuit court to make improvements made on vacant,
derelict houses deemed eligible for the spot blight program. The owner
of the property may redeem the property subject to receivership during
the receivership process or prior to sale and will be awarded any
profits gained through sale at public auction. This legislation was
recommended by the Virginia Housing Commission. The House Bill 491(Del.
Dance) passed out of Counties, Cities and Towns on Friday and the Senate
Bill 122 (Sen. Watkins) will be heard in Senate Local Government today.
- Four (4) predatory lending bills have been introduced. SB 98
(Edwards) caps finance charges that may be charged on open-end credit
plans to 36%; SB 28 (Locke) and SB186 (J. Miller) put a 36% maximum on
payday loans. Del. David Yancey (HB 725) introduced a bill capping
title loans and other open ended credit loans. In the House, Del. Wagner
will chair a subcommittee in Commerce and Labor specifically for these
bills. VFC strongly supports this legislation.
- Constitutional Amendment bills resolutions will likely be taken up in
the House next Monday morning in the constitutional amendment
subcommittee of Privileges and Elections. Local governments, businesses,
economic developers and others have serious reservations about the
impact of this legislation on our ability to attract business, create
jobs and enter into public-private partnership efforts. Particularly
concerning are references to lost profits (too speculative) and lost
access (courts currently allow for lost reasonable access but not
decreased access). The bills and resolutions currently introduced are:
HJ 3 and HB 5 (Bell); HB 597 (Crockett-Starke); SJ 117 (Deeds); SJ 67
(McDougle); SJ3 and SB 437, SB 240 (Obenshain).
- numerous bills have been introduced requiring or allowing candidates
for local office (cities and towns) to be identified by party labels.
The bills were heard in P and E's subcommittee on January 23. The
subcommittee supported requiring party labels over allowing a locality
to choose. If you have not yet let me know your locality's position,
please do so as soon as possible. To date responses have been neutral.
Joint Chiefs of Police and Sheriffs Association Press Conference
The Joint Chiefs of Police and Sheriffs Association Press Conference drew over 60 law enforcement officials to jointly advocate
protecting funding for law enforcement - General Assembly Building, February 2010.
Virginia First Cities Coalition 1108 East Main Street, Suite 601 Richmond, VA 23219-3535