I’m continuing my seven week series highlighting 51 unique accomplishments by the Republican-led House of Delegates. I’ll be sending weekly emails about our successful efforts, as well as daily posts on my Facebook and Twitter pages. If you missed last week’s email, you can read it here.
#5 – Tuition Freeze
Virginia students borrow over $1 billion per year to attend college, creating a mounting pile of student debt that hurts our economy and our children’s future.
Making college more affordable has long been a priority of the House of Delegates, and this year’s budget takes a huge step on higher education affordability. The budget includes $57 millions to incentivize our public colleges and universities to freeze tuition.
This new funding, paired with new legislation to mandate public input before an institution raises tuition, will go a long way toward helping control the rising cost of attending a public college or university.
The budget also increases funding for financial aid by $16 million, providing more financial assistance to those who need it.
#6 – New Jobs Coming to Virginia
Virginia is consistently ranked as a top state for doing business by numerous publications. This year the Republican-led House of Delegates passed legislation and incentives packages to help bring tens of thousands of new jobs to Virginia.
Most notably after a nationwide search, Amazon chose Virginia as the location for their “HQ2” project, bringing more than 25,000 jobs. Additionally, Micron plans a $3 billion expansion of their Virginia plant, creating 1,100 new jobs.
The House of Delegates passed major incentive packages for both Amazon and Micron. Both packages are fiscally responsible and take important steps to safeguard taxpayers.
More importantly, though, the House passed a series of bills to build out a massive “tech-talent pipeline” that will give our students the right skills to succeed in the high-tech jobs that companies like Amazon and Micron are bringing to Virginia. These transformative ideas along new job creations will keep our economy growing, raising wages for everyone.
#7 – Funding for School Safety
Last week, I highlighted the various school safety policy accomplishments of the Republican-led House of Delegates. These new policies are supported with a historic investment in school and student safety funding in the budget amendments adopted by the General Assembly
The budget includes approximately $12 million in funding for school resource officers, school safety infrastructure, and other initiatives designed to keep our students safe in schools. Also included in the budget is significant funding to support school counselors and direct-student counseling services.
A main priority of the Select Committee on School Safety that I formed in March of 2018 was to secure our schools and keep students safe without creating unfunded mandates for localities. Our budget responsibly allocates resources to allow for these safety features to be implemented without the cost burden falling to the local school districts.
Here’s a summary of the School Safety initiatives included in the final budget agreement:
- Increased Funding for School Security Equipment Grant Program, $6.0 million
- Increased Funding for School Resource Officer Grants, $3.0 million
- School Safety Training in all Public Schools, $872,000
- Threat Assessment Team Case Management Tool, $721,000
- Basic Training for School Resource Officers, $428,000
- School Climate Survey, $400,000
- Funding for Active Shooter Training, $280,000
#8 – Lowering the Cost of Prepaid Education Plans
This year the House of Delegates passed legislation to make it easier for middle class families to afford college by lowering the price of these Prepaid529 plans.
The legislation will lower the current cost of an eight semester contract by more than $3,000.
Currently, families pay a 10 percent “pricing reserve” on top of the semester contract prices. The pricing reserve is on top of the amount needed to pay future contract benefits and is used to mitigate risk to the fund. A June 2018 analysis by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC), found that Virginia’s Prepaid529 program is 138% funded and actuarially sound. This means that the program is more than capable of meeting all of its benefit commitments.
The legislation caps the pricing reserve at five percent if the program is more than 105 percent funded, as it is currently.
#9 – Elevating Women to Judgeships
This year, the General Assembly elected Judge Teresa Chafin to the Supreme Court of Virginia, and Judge Patricia West as the newest judge on the State Corporation Commission.
Since 2001, the Republican-led General Assembly has developed a consistent track record of elevating women and minorities in Virginia’s Judicial System.
Judge West’s election to the State Corporation Commission means women will now hold the majority on this important court. Justice-elect Chafin is the fourth woman elected to the Supreme Court since 2001 (Kinser, 2010; Powell, 2011; McClanahan, 2011; Chafin, 2019).
Based on data available from the Office of the Executive Secretary, the Republican-led General Assembly has elected over 100 women to judgeships across the Commonwealth.
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