Kirk understands the vital importance of helping businesses create new jobs. As a Delegate, he works to help bring both new businesses and new jobs to the Commonwealth. In 2016, Kirk successfully carried legislation creating the Virginia Growth and Opportunity Board (GO Virginia). This business-driven initiative facilitates greater collaboration between the business community, higher education, and local governments. By aligning the needs of the three segments, we will encourage the creation of good-paying jobs in high demand fields, and make economic development dollars go further. Overall, Kirk understands that the General Assembly must support legislation that will improve economic growth, create private sector jobs, and significantly decrease burdensome regulations on our small businesses.
A strong supporter of the military, veterans, and their families, Kirk has introduced over 120 pieces of legislation designed to make life easier for active duty military, veterans, and their families. Kirk worked tirelessly to fund the establishment of a veterans’ care center in Richmond and subsequent buildings and expansions in Salem, Prince William, and Hampton Roads. His efforts led to funding for the expansion of the Virginia War Memorial and its Paul & Phyllis Galanti Education Center. Kirk introduced legislation establishing the Wounded Warrior Program (now the Virginia Veteran & Family Support program) in Virginia to better assist service members with TBI and PTSD, as well as their families. To ensure veterans receive their earned benefits, he has fought to increase the number of authorized veterans’ claim officers and to invest in the development of the automated claims system that will lessen the time a claim takes.
Kirk believes strongly that government should focus on the core functions of government and must live within its means. Nowhere is this more evident than when he is working on the state budget. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee and a Budget Conferee, Kirk advocates for a balanced, responsible budget that does not raise taxes or fees on hardworking Virginians. Kirk believes in leading by example, and that means cutting spending within the legislature itself. Since 2010, the legislative branch returned over $19 million in savings to the state’s general fund. By focusing on passing conservative, responsible, and balanced budgets, Kirk’s leadership has placed Virginia in a position to move forward.
In the General Assembly, Kirk advocates on behalf of Virginians with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Working alongside the Arc of Virginia, a capstone organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Kirk successfully carried budget amendments increasing the number of ID/DD waiver slots in the budget so that individuals can receive the care they need. Kirk has additionally fought to increase funding for community-based services for those with disabilities. With Kirk’s leadership, Virginia increased funding for mental health care by more than $230 million in the last three years.
The ongoing heroin and prescription drug crisis impacts families from all walks of life in all corners of our Commonwealth. In the House of Delegates, Kirk supported common sense legislation aimed at cracking down on pill mills and doctors that over prescribe. Kirk has observed the effects of heroin use first hand by visiting inmates in the Heroin Addiction and Recovery Program (HARP) started by Sheriff Karl Leonard at Chesterfield County Jail. During the 2017 session, Kirk successfully passed legislation to create a statewide pilot program for addiction recovery programs, modeled off HARP. Kirk will continue fighting the heroin and prescription drug crisis and support legislation meant to keep Virginians safe.
As a retired public school teacher with 30 years of in-classroom experience and the father of four public school graduates, Kirk believes that a world-class education system is critical to growing Virginia’s economy. Kirk’s vision for K-12 education is rooted in increased accountability and encouraging innovation in the classroom. He supported increased funding targeted to classrooms—not school bureaucracy – and co-patroned legislation adding more school choice options and reducing the number of SOL tests. Kirk led the effort to fund teacher pay raises in the state budget in 2014 and 2017. Additionally, the state’s adopted budget sent 35% of lottery funds, or $191 million, back to local school divisions with no strings attached.
Kirk, a past chair and member of the Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources Committee (ACNR), is a leader for legislation to protect the environment. In 2009, Kirk successfully introduced legislation to protect our children and pets from accidentally ingesting anti-freeze by requiring a bittering agent to be added to anti-freeze manufactured and/or sold in Virginia. Without this bittering agent, anti-freeze has a sweet taste. In 2013, he carried a budget amendment to raise the reservoir level of Lake Chesdin. With the Appomattox River Water Authority’s approval, the project could increase the lake’s capacity by 1.9 million gallons, 20% of reservoir volume, to help improve the availability of water in our area. Since 2016, Kirk has been monitoring the coal ash situation at the Chesterfield Dominion station. In 2017, he successfully helped pass legislation that requires additional time for studies on the clean closure process, and how it will impact the environment and consumers. In recognition of his hard work on behalf of the agribusiness industry, Kirk was awarded the Distinguished Friend of Agribusiness in 2017.
As the father of four sons, Kirk is committed to making college more affordable and accessible to all Virginians. In 2014, Kirk successfully carried legislation aimed at decreasing the cost of college by capping athletic fees charged to students at Virginia colleges and universities, the largest driver of college costs in Virginia according to JLARC. In 2017, Kirk carried legislation that revamped Virginia’s 30+ year old financial aid program so that it rewards students for successfully progressing through a program and applies to more middle-income families. Kirk also carried legislation creating the Online Virginia Network. The Virginia Online Network will increase opportunities for non-traditional students and the more than one million Virginians who have started, but not completed their college degrees. Online Virginia Network is a consortium of online classes from various state universities with one-stop shopping for scheduling, registering, and taking online classes.