Category Archives: Money

Virginia Ends the Fiscal Year with a Budget Surplus

We learned last week that Virginia ended the fiscal year with a $132 million budget surplus. This is the direct result of the Republican-led General Assembly’s conservative budgeting and responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars. While Washington deals with massive debts and deficits, Virginia has produced five budget surpluses totaling over $2 billion.

Getting to this point wasn’t easy. We faced a $1.5 billion deficit earlier this year. We made tough decisions and adopted conservative budget amendments to keep spending in check and balance our budget. But we were also able to fund the core functions of government like K-12 education and public safety, providing a pay raise to teachers, state police officers and sheriff’s deputies.

Our surplus may be great news, but we also have to be cautious about the future. Virginia’s economy is struggling. We continue to lag behind the national recovery, and many people have traded higher paying jobs for lower paying ones. That means we must continue to be conservative and responsible with our budgeting.

That also means we must continue to remain laser focused on strengthening our economy. It’s becoming clear to me that the McAuliffe/Northam approach to economic development might attract a lot of headlines, but it’s not creating the solid economic growth we need. Over the next few months, I look forward to sharing how Republicans will grow our economy to help Virginia families and businesses.

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Virginia’s CNBC Ranking

Virginia is on the rise again. A recent ranking by CNBC shows that Virginia is now 7th on the list of best states to do business in which is a large improvement compared to last year’s 13th place ranking. After having been ranked #1 in 2007, 2009, and 2011, Virginia has dropped in the ratings for the past few years, but the recent increase shows the resilience of our economy and government. CNBC’s rankings were based off of 10 categories which are cost of doing business, economy, quality of life, technology & innovation, education, business friendliness, access to capital, and cost of living. I am proud to say that Virginia ranked 2nd in workforce quality and was in the top 10 for workforce and business friendliness.

In the past 3 years, unemployment rates have dropped from 5.4% to 3.8% and unemployment claims have dropped to a 44-year low. In addition to lowered unemployment, there has been a large influx of capital investment, job openings, and people in the workforce. To be more specific, Virginia has experience a record breaking $16.16 billion in capital investment while adding over 187,500 new jobs. Now that Virginia is back in the top 10, it will likely continue to grow as our high ranking will be very appealing to companies who are looking to expand or relocate.

Despite all of the improvements we have made there are still areas which we can improve upon. Despite being highly ranked in workforce quality and business friendliness, Virginia received a poor ranking, 35th in the nation, for cost of doing business, which might make it difficult to establish new businesses. In addition to the CNBC ranking, over 5,000 businesses were surveyed, and their biggest issues were workforce training, tax reform, and regional cooperation in economic development. It’s obvious that Virginia is moving in the right direction with lowered unemployment and increased capital investment, but now we need to focus on making our state more business friendly in order to continue rising and regain our #1 ranking.

Study Shows GOP Controlled States Are the Best Run

Although raising taxes will provide states some of the immediate funding they need to cover budget deficits, how harsh will the future impact be? Thanks to an article my fellow Virginia State Delegate, Israel O’Quinn, sent to me, I hope to be able to enlighten you on this question and highlight why increasing taxes and thus state funds doesn’t necessarily mean increased financial stability.

In an article originally published by Investor’s Business Daily, studies from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University reveal the relation between economic stability and Republican controlled, low-tax states compared to the low solvency of Democratic states with high-taxes.

While GOP controlled states such as Florida, Utah, and Tennessee landed in the top 10 best run states, states like New Jersey, Maryland, and California, all under Democratic control, were part of the 10 worst run states. These rankings were determined by 5 factors which assess the fiscal solvency of each state. These range from cash solvency, the ability to pay immediate bills, to trust-fund solvency which assesses a state’s unfunded pension liabilities and state debt. It seems a common trend that states in the bottom 10 are thinking too much about the present and not looking enough to the future. New Jersey and Illinois give great examples of this as they both scored in the bottom of the long-run solvency category which is concerned with meeting long-term spending goals, yet they both did significantly better in service-level solvency which looks at their ability to meet increased spending demands. It seems only natural that the states who meet increased spending while not focusing on meeting future goals are the ones who have the least fiscal solvency.

It should seem obvious that raising taxes isn’t the answer as 4 of the 9 states who raised their taxes this year are in the bottom 10 of the rankings and none of them managed to make it into the top 10. After seeing this it should be clear that the amount of money available isn’t the issue, it’s the ways in which the government uses tax payer money which decides whether the state will have fiscal stability or not.

If you want to check out the article for yourself, the link is here: http://www.investors.com/politics/commentary/best-run-states-are-all-solidly-republican-worst-run-mostly-democratic-study-finds/

 

Explanation of Federal Repeal and Replace of the Affordable Care Act

Here is a message from the House Appropriations Committee Chairman Chris Jones on how the federal government plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act:

Chairman Jones Memo Regarding Federal Health Care Reform

2017 Crossover Update

                             ENCOURAGING JOB GROWTH                                 

Virginia is still a leading job creator in the United States, and ranks in the top 10 in the country for:

  • “Best State for Business” by Forbes Magazine
  • “Best States to Make a Living” by Business Insider and Money-Rates.com
  • “The Top States for Higher Education” by com
  • “The K-12 Achievement Index” by Educational Week and Quality Counts
  • “NAEP Combined Proficiency Rate: 4th and 8th Grade Reading and Math” by Educational Week and Quality Counts

More importantly, we have lowered our unemployment rate by 2.5% between 2012 (6.9%) and 2017 (4.4%) and have the 8th lowest combined state and local tax burden in the country!

However, things are not all roses and puppy dogs.  For decades, the economy in Northern Virginia has benefited from Federal Government spending, but with the recent cuts and the sequestration, our once invincible economy is starting to stammer.  Currently, Fairfax County has a 0% growth rate.  This is a big problem.  In order to create more jobs and increase economic growth, we need to reduce our dependency on the Federal Government and diversify our NOVA economy.  For this reason, I have invested a great deal of time in helping Fairfax INOVA start their Translational Medicine Institute right here in Fairfax County.  The institute combines gene mapping, massive computing power, and clinical trials to develop medications based on a person’s individual DNA code.  Personalized medicine could be an economic game changer.  I even took an online class to further my knowledge on genetics and DNA!  By making our County a national leader in the field of genetics, I hope to make Fairfax County the world’s center for personalized medicine, and therefore create an economic engine in NOVA for years to come.

DELEGATE ALBO’S BILLS

Getting Our Kids into VA Universities:

HB 1410 – Educational institutions, certain; designation of governing boards. (Albo Chief Patron) For years, I have been working with a bipartisan group of Delegates to make colleges more affordable and accessible to our Virginia students.  My HB 1410 does three things.  First, it creates a study so that colleges can eventually stop using tuition from one Virginia student to provide financial aid for another student.  This practice is unfair to students working a job after classes to pay their way through school, and to parents who are working hard to provide for their kids.  Their hard earned money should be used solely for their education or their child’s education.  Second, it creates an incentive for colleges to have at least 70% in-state student enrollment rates, and requires any tuition earned from out-of-state students over the 30% limit be used to lower in-state tuition.  Lastly, it mandates the Board of Visitors to complete training to remind them that their duty is primarily to the people of Virginia.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Protecting Our Environment:

HB 1423 – Potomac River Watershed; DEQ to identify owner of any combined sewer overflow outfall, etc. (Albo Chief Patron) This bill would direct the DEQ to identify the owner of any combined sewer overflow outfall that gets into the Potomac River Watershed and to determine how the owner can bring the outfall into compliance with Virginia law, the federal Clean Water Act, and the policy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  My idea was incorporated into Delegate Lingamfelter’s HB 2383.

Albo voted “YES”. HB 2383 passed the House.

Helping Families Going Through Divorces:

HB 1456 – Custody and visitation orders; use of term parenting time. (Albo Chief Patron) I have seen many divorce cases argued in court, and know that it must be a stressful time for parents and children.  This bill provides that the court, in its discretion and in referring to a parent, may use the phrase “parenting time” as synonymous with the term “visitation” in a custody or visitation order.  The option to use the term “parenting time” would ensure that no one parent is made to feel less important than another during this already difficult time.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House and the Senate.

Developing Our Area’s Culture and Arts:

HB 1486 – Arts and cultural districts. (Albo Chief Patron) This bill would allow two or more localities to join together to create an arts and cultural district.  We are trying to combine the Lorton Workhouse Arts Center with the events and art in Occoquan with this legislation.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Protecting Your Purchases:

HB 1825 – Rights to resell tickets; civil penalty. (Albo Chief Patron) As a citizen legislator, I bring my own experiences with me to the House of Delegates.  This past year, I splurged on two tickets to see Iron Maiden, only to learn that they conflicted with my family’s vacation.  Because of the restrictions on ticket resale imposed by Ticketmaster, I couldn’t resell the tickets, had to miss the show, and lost my money.  This bill would end those restrictions.  Under HB 1825, any ticket vendor would be prohibited from imposing any rules that would create a substantial obstacle to the ticket holder’s resale of the ticket.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

_________________________________________________________

OTHER BILLS OF INTEREST

EDUCATION

Making Sure Virginians are Running our Virginia Schools:
HB 1402 –  Higher educational institutions, public; certain positions require residency of the Commonwealth.
This bill would require each chairman, vice-chairman, rector, and vice-rector of public Virginia colleges to be a Virginia resident.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Helping Our Students Grow in the Computer Science Field:

HB 1663 – Computer Science for All Virginia Students Advisory Committee, etc.; established. Through the establishment of a public-private partnership, this bill encourages and helps fund computer science training and professional development for public school teachers throughout Virginia.  HB 1663 works to improve computer literacy for children and adults in public schools across the Commonwealth.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Keeping Parents Informed About Their Kids’ Education:

HB 2191 – School boards; procedures; sexually explicit instructional materials or related academic activities. (Albo Chief Co-Patron) I co-authored this bill, because parents should have all the information available when it comes to their kids’ education.  This bill would require schools to notify parents when students are required to read sexually explicit material and to offer an alternative reading if it is requested.  The bill would not ban any books from schools, it would simply notify parents if a reading has sexually explicit content.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

VA COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES

My aforementioned HB 1410 is intended to increase the number of in-state slots, but some schools are already moving in the right direction!  Virginia Tech added 507 in-state slots for the 2016-2017 school year.  The University of Virginia added 843 in-state slots in the last five years, increasing its percentage of in-state students from 67.2% to 69%.  James Madison University increased its percentage of in-state students from 72.2% in 2012 to 74.5% this year.  Some schools have been lacking, though, as William and Mary only added 103 in-state slots over the last five years.  I am glad to see that most of our universities are supporting our Virginia students, but there is more work to be done!

K-12 EDUCATION

Funding for our Schools:

The House proposed budget for July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018 delivers $21,871,425 MORE to Fairfax County Public Schools.  That is an increase of over $115 per student.  Over the past five years we have delivered $353/student/year more to our Fairfax County Public Schools!

HEALTHCARE

Providing Women’s Healthcare:

HB 2267 – Health benefit plans; coverage for hormonal contraceptives. (Albo Co-Patron) This bill states that health plans that provide hormonal contraceptives must provide a 12-month supply to the patient.  It does not mandate that it all be provided at once, but that women have annual access to this healthcare.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Monitoring Opioid Prescriptions:

HB 1885 – Prescription of opioids; limits. This is one of the bills put forward to combat the opioid epidemic in Virginia.  The epidemic is partly enabled by the difficulty in tracking and monitoring prescriptions.  This bill would require a prescriber registered with the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) to request information about a patient from the PMP before prescribing them any opioids.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House and the Senate.

PUBLIC SAFETY AND TRANSPORTATION

Enforcing Federal Immigration Law:

HB 1468 – Compliance with detainers; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This bill would prohibit a jail or law enforcement agency from releasing a person who is incarcerated and is an illegal alien when the jail has already received a lawful detainer order from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  This legislation would simply ensure that our state agencies comply with existing federal law.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House and the Senate.

Prosecuting Drunk Drivers:

HB 2327 – DUI; implied consent; refusal of blood or breath tests. This bill was offered in response to a recent Supreme Court decision that ruled that criminal penalties for refusing a blood alcohol content test for a DUI was unconstitutional.  HB 2327 changes the penalties associated with refusal for repeat DUI offenders to make it constitutional.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Protecting Virginians from Fraud:

HB 2417 – Department of Medical Assistance Services; fraud prevention; prepayment analytics. (Albo Co-Patron) HB 2417 creates a computer monitoring system aimed at reducing fraud with payments made through the state program for medical assistance.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Combatting Terrorism in Virginia:

HB 2410 – Providing support to terrorist organizations; penalty. Our code previously lacked provisions that specifically punished those associated with terrorism when the actual act of terror occurred outside of Virginia.  Under this bill, any person who knowingly aids a terrorist organization will be guilty of a Class 3 felony.  If the assistance results in someone’s death, that charge is increased to a Class 2 felony.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

Keeping Our Kids Safe from Sex Offenders:

HB 1485 – Sex offenses prohibiting proximity to children; penalty. (Albo Co-Patron) In order to protect our children, this bill prohibits those who have been convicted of sex offenses in other states or foreign countries from residing or being in places where children frequent.  The bill applies to anyone who has been convicted of an offense that is similar to the any of the offenses qualified as sex offenses in Virginia.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

LOCAL NEWS

Commemorating Women’s Right to Vote:

HB 2348 – Women’s Right to Vote, Commission for the Commemoration of the Centennial of; established. (Albo Co-Patron) This bill creates a commission to commemorate the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote.  2017 marks 100 years since the turning point of the Suffrage Movement.  The Turning Point Suffragist Memorial will be built in Occoquan Regional Park, where the Occoquan Workhouse was located.  Scores of suffragists were unjustly imprisoned in the Workhouse.  The national memorial will educate, inspire, and give people the opportunity to reflect.  My grandmother was a suffragette, and I remember her telling me stories about it when I was a kid.  This bill will help to commemorate her and all the women who fought for their right to vote.

Albo voted “YES.” The bill passed the House.

WSHS Renovation Begins:

West Springfield High School is in the midst of a renovation.  Drive by when you get a chance to see the progress on the building!

                                               ________________________________

I know this was a lot of information, but we have accomplished a lot so far in Richmond.  Please contact me by email at DelDAlbo@house.virginia.gov, or by phone at (703) 451-3555 with any questions or concerns.  You can also view updates on my blog, www.delegatedavealbo.wordpress.com.  After all, my job is not to do what I want to do, but rather, to do what you want!

Student Debt in Virginia

There’s no question that student debt affects a significant number of Virginians each year. Beyond increasing an individual’s financial burden, student debt negatively impacts the Virginia economy. According to studies conducted in the past three years, people with student debt are less likely to buy a home, start a new business, or save for retirement.

Below are some graphics that depict some of the impact of student debt, as well as information on the tuition increases in recent years. Virginia universities must work to decrease the amount of debt for their graduates. I’m working hard to introduce and sponsor bills that would alleviate student debt by reducing tuition for Virginia students.

student-debt-1student-debt-2student-debt-3student-debt-4

First Week of 2017 Session

The 2017 General Assembly Session has begun!

The 2017 General Assembly session opened on Wednesday, January 12. I’m looking forward to a productive session working for you in Richmond this winter!

On Wednesday, Session began with the Richmond Symphony singing the National Anthem, which was followed by the swearing in of one new member, Rocky Holcomb (R). Delegate Holcomb will be representing District 85.

Later that evening, Governor Terry McAuliffe delivered his annual State of the Commonwealth address to the Joint Assembly of the House of Delegates and Senate. You can view a video recording of the evening here. The transcript of the Governor’s address can be read here. Delegate Villanueva and Senator Dunnavant delivered the Republican Perspective on the State of the Commonwealth. You can read the text of their remarks here.

Budget

In August of last year, Governor McAuliffe announced over a $1 billion shortfall. The shortfall is a result of a lagging economy that generated less tax revenue than expected. Virginia’s economy has lost more than 4,000 jobs, weekly wages are down, and part-time employees are up by more than 20,000 since 2015.

However, unlike Washington, Virginia’s constitution requires a balanced budget. Last month Governor McAuliffe unveiled his proposed budget to the General Assembly. The Governor’s budget proposal is just the first step in a long process. It is now time for the House to develop our budget. Our goal is to craft a responsible, conservative budget that strategically invests in the core functions of government while protecting precious taxpayer resources. We will invest in key priorities, but we must do so in a fiscally prudent manner.

Pre-Session Survey

As we start the General Assembly, I encourage you to fill out my session survey. Many of you may have already received it in the mail, but I encourage you to fill it out on my website http://www.davealbo.org/. Please share the survey with your friends and neighbors in the 42nd District to fill it out as well. Your thoughts on important issues like ways to make college more affordable and suggestions on how to stimulate our economy drive my work in Richmond. Please make sure you complete and send in your survey by January 18th.

Delegate Albo’s 2017 Legislation

I have filed a few bills that you may find interesting. To follow any other legislation or to read these bills in full, please visit http://www.lis.virginia.gov

HB 1410: Educational institutions, certain; designation of governing boards. Renames as boards of trustees the boards of visitors of certain educational institutions in the Commonwealth.

The bill prohibits public institutions of higher education from using tuition revenue from any Virginia student to provide financial assistance to any Virginia student or non-Virginia student and more than five percent of tuition revenue from non-Virginia students to provide financial assistance to non-Virginia students.

The bill also requires the governing board of each public institution of higher education (except VMI, Norfolk State, and VSU) to ensure that at least 75 percent of the undergraduate students enrolled at the institution have established domicile in the Commonwealth. The public institutions must be compliant no later than the 2020-2021 academic year.

HB 1423: Potomac River Watershed; DEQ to identify owner of any combined sewer overflow outfall, etc. Directs Department of Environmental Quality to identify the owner of any combined sewer overflow outfall that discharges into the Potomac River Watershed and to determine what actions by the owner are necessary to bring the outfall into compliance with Virginia law, the federal Clean Water Act, and the Presumption Approach described in the CSO Control Policy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

HB 1456: Custody and visitation orders; use of term parenting time. Provides that at the request of a parent to such case or proceeding, the court shall use the phrase “parenting time” instead of the term “visitation.” The bill does not apply to any case or proceeding where a court has found a history of family abuse or sexual abuse or has otherwise found that a child subject to the case or proceeding is an abused or neglected child.

HB 1486: Arts and cultural districts. Provides that arts and cultural districts may be created jointly by two or more localities.

I encourage you to keep in touch with me and my office over the rest of session! I value the feedback you provide as it helps me to a better job of representing you. You can email me at DelDAlbo@house.virginia.gov or call me at (804)-698-1042. You can also join the conversation on our Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DaveAlboVA

Links of Interest

My Web Site: www.DaveAlbo.org

Legislative information system: http://www.lis.virginia.gov

Live session video and archived session videos: http://virginia-house.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=3

New members of the House and Senate: http://www.vpap.org/general-assembly/new-faces/

Speaker Howell announces standing committee assignments: http://www.vpap.org/updates/2439-2017-house-committee-assignments/

Governor McAuliffe’s State of the Commonwealth address: http://virginia-house.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=3907

Transcript of the State of the Commonwealth address: https://governor.virginia.gov/newsroom/newsarticle?articleId=18925

Transcript of Delegate Villanueva and Senator Dunnavant’s Republican Perspective on the State of the Commonwealth: http://virginiahouse.gop/2017/01/11/delegate-villanueva-and-senator-dunnavant-deliver-republican-perspective-on-the-state-of-the-commonwealth/

JLARC Report on Virginia’s Medicaid Program

The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) released a report on Monday about the cost-effectiveness of Virginia’s Medicaid program. You can find JLARC’s full report here.

The Virginia Medicaid program provides medical, long-term care, and behavioral health services to over a million individuals in the Commonwealth each year. The General Assembly asked JLARC to look into the program’s cost-effectiveness because Medicaid’s spending increases have outpaced total state budget growth over the past 10 years, and now require more of Virginia’s budget resources.

The report indicates that Medicaid general fund spending has increased by approximately nine percent annually over the last 10 years. In fact, Medicaid spending alone made up 22 percent of the general fund budget in 2016. This makes funding education and other programs more difficult.

JLARC believes a lot of these expenses are preventable and that there are other ways to provide more cost-effective long-term services and care without using so much of Virginia’s budget. JLARC has outlined a series of recommendations, which can be found here.

Please be aware that I am not writing this in opposition to Medicaid. If we can afford it, I want to take care of as many people as possible who are unable to care for themselves. I just think it is important that we implement reforms to save enough money so that Medicaid does not cost us any more than we are currently paying.

Governor McAuliffe Announces Budget Shortfall

Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia’s budget shortfall is about $1.5 billion. The fiscal year 2016 budget shortfall is about $279 million, the fiscal year 2017 budget shortfall is about $564 million and the fiscal year 2018 budget shortfall is about $630 million. This is the result of a lagging economy that generated less tax revenue than expected. Our economy is replacing high paying full time jobs with lower paying part time jobs. However, Virginia’s constitution requires a balanced budget. When the General Assembly returns to Richmond for Session in January, we will balance the budget. We will do this while working to preserve K-12 funding, protect our investments in higher-education, and maintain our commitment to fully-funding the state pension system. This shortfall backs the General Assembly’s decision not to expand Medicaid. It proves that Virginia cannot afford new long-term fiscal obligations like Medicaid expansion. Since 2008, the Republican-led General Assembly has closed three budget shortfalls totaling $8.6 billion without raising taxes. Over the last 15 years, Virginia has seen four budget shortfalls. But each time, we have met our constitutional obligation to balance the budget.

  • In 2008 we closed a $665.4 for FY2008 shortfall without raising taxes.
  • In 2009 and 2010 we closed a $6.1 billion shortfall for FY09-10 without raising taxes. Governor Tim Kaine’s plan to raise taxes did not receive a single vote in the legislature.
  • In 2014 we met in a special session to address an unexpected shortfall of $1.9 billion.

That being said, while budget shortfalls are never good, my fellow legislators and I have seen them before and we will work to balance this one just as efficiently as in previous years.

 

How Road Repaving is Determined

I want to explain how all the roads in the state of Virginia are paved. There is a system in place that determines the roads, either primary or secondary, that need to be repaved. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) schedules roads to be repaved based on the condition of the roads and how heavy the daily traffic is on said road. For example, if a secondary road is classified as “Very Poor” it will have priority over a secondary road that is classified as “Poor” or “Fair”. The budget is mostly used for the primary roads every year because they are the roads drivers use the most every day. Only about 6-8% of secondary roads are able to be repaved with the remaining available funds.

Primary roads with higher daily traffic volumes, e.g. interstate and all roads beginning with a “1” (like 123) or a “2” (like 286, the Fairfax County Parkway), will always have priority over secondary roads (e.g. connector, residential, and neighborhood roads). It is a system of priorities that has a definite focus on helping as many people as possible within the boundaries of the budget.

For more information on VDOT’s paving schedule click here: http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/northern_virginia/northern_virginia_paving_program.asp

To see the rating of your road, click here:  http://virginiaroads.org/Mapping/#PavementConditions