Moving into the third week of session, the Capitol has seen record numbers of visitors. Daily attendance by the public has consistently been over 4,500 people a day. I’m enjoying meeting with so many who are being active in the political process, especially the Chamber of Commerce, 4-H students, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), and Credit Union League who had their respective organization’s annual “day on the hill” this week.
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Republicans Lead on Education
Education is the foundation to a strong workforce capable of tackling 21st century issues. Our caucus has several education initiatives that address all levels of learning in Virginia.
Virginia has a 40-year-old financial aid model. It is time to modernize that model by incentivizing students to complete their degrees on time ensuring they take out less loans. I am carrying HB2427 that will motivate and reward students to successfully finish their degree on time by increasing aid money as they progress through their academic career.
I am also carrying HB2311 that creates the Online Virginia Network aimed at providing a new pathway for students to complete a college degree by establishing an online consortium of classes from various state universities. It is a one-stop shop for scheduling, registering, and taking online classes. Higher education institutions in Virginia have focused primarily on enhancing enrollment, retention, and graduation rates in pursuit of preparing a highly skilled workforce for the Virginia economy. The same emphasis needs to be directed toward identifying those individuals with some college credit, but who have not attained a degree.
The House is committed to maintaining Virginia’s strong K-12 system and working to give all children the opportunities in education they deserve by enacting reforms in public education, promoting choice and flexibility, and encouraging early childhood education.
In 2016 the House budget sent 31% of lottery funds, or $272 million, back to local school divisions. This mechanism gives local schools more flexibility by not requiring matching funds or mandating how the funds must be spent. This year we look to build on this investment that gives local school leaders the flexibility to meet their own unique public education needs.
Students in the Commonwealth deserve a quality education, regardless of their circumstances or neighborhood. That’s why Dickie Bell is carrying HB1400 that establishes Virginia Virtual schools so students aren’t bound to brick and mortar buildings for their education. They can take classes offered all over Virginia.
Dave LaRock is carrying HB1605 that creates Education Savings Accounts. ESAs will empower parents to choose what is right for their child’s education by allowing families with special needs students to receive direct access to the state funding for that student. That funding is deposited into an Education Savings Account, where it can be used for private school tuition, homeschool, online classes, course materials, or other educational purposes.
While the House of Delegates does not believe a statewide mandated pre-school program is the best approach, we are exploring better ways to encourage early childhood education. Our focus is on improving access to private providers. Jimmie Massie is helping on this front with HB1963 that makes families with at-risk 4 year old’s unserved by Head Start eligible for tax credits to enroll in a pre-k program.
Dual enrollment credits provide a great opportunity for students to begin working on their degree credits while still in high school. Tag Greason is carrying HB1662 to establish a uniform policy for granting undergraduate course credit to entering freshman students so students can properly prepare their course schedules to maximize their benefits.
Compensation Package for State Employees, Police, Sheriff Deputies
On Tuesday, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Chris Jones held a press conference with Senate budget leaders to highlight their joint priorities in regards to a compensation package. The proposal includes a 3% pay raise for state employees, funds to raise the starting salary of Virginia State Police, and funds to address salary compression issues for sheriff’s deputies. The committees responsible for the budget bills will unveil their complete proposals on February 5th.
Visitors To My Office
Each week I receive many visitors to my Richmond office. I always enjoy hearing from citizens on bills under consideration by the General Assembly. If you’re visiting the Capitol, stop by my office in room 607 and say hello!
Top photo: Del. Cox meets with Chesterfield 4-H students and parents.
Bottom photo: Del. Cox with Chesterfield’s new Commissioner of the Revenue, Tim McPeters.
Del. Cox with representatives of various credit unions.
Top photo: Del. Cox with new residents of the 66th district, Sue & Fred Hughes.
Bottom photo: Del. Cox with members of the Chesterfield County Farm Bureau.
During session, you can contact me at my Richmond office by phone at 698-1066; by email at email@example.com; or by mail at PO Box 406, Richmond, VA 23218. I appreciate your views on legislation that will help me do a better job for the people I represent.
Please visit my Facebook page and my Twitter page. These pages, along with my website, have information/links to the 2017 General Assembly session to include my legislation, visitors’ photos, my legislative survey, videos of floor remarks, and related topics.
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