Monday, December 28, 2015

Weekly Column: What's Ahead in the State Legislature

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, The Mt. Vernon Voice and The Potomac-Stafford Local in the week of December 29, 2015.
What's Ahead in the State Legislature

       The 2016, 60-day session of the Virginia General Assembly gavels in on January 13. 
       The legislature will craft a two-year budget, which will be Governor McAuliffe's first chance to put his stamp on the state's finances.  While Virginia’s economy lags behind the national average, revenue is up more than average for the first time since I was elected in 2009 and there are many unmet needs worthy of funding.

Supporting Our Schools and Colleges
        Virginia is currently funding secondary education on a per pupil, inflation-adjusted basis at levels below funding in 2007.  The Governor has requested a billion dollar increase, new teacher positions, teacher pay raises and  full funding for “Cost to Compete,”  a program that supplements salaries for  Northern Virginia school employees. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Announcing the Puller Institute!

At the beginning of her term, Former 44th District Delegate Kris Amundson created a program to engage area high school juniors and seniors in the General Assembly process. In 2012, I renamed the program the Amundson Institute to honor Delegate Amundson's innovative idea and passion for the project. 

I am excited to hand the Amundson Institute over to 44th District Delegate-Elect Paul Krizek and create a similar program further to the Virginia State Senate.  It is dedicated to Senator Toddy Puller and her twenty-four years of service to Northern Virginia in the State Senate and House of Delegates.

Similar to the Amundson Institute, the program will consist of six bright junior and senior high school students who live in the 36th District.  They will travel to Richmond, watch the legislative process at work in the Senate and House Chambers, Committee, meet with policy makers, and tour historic state facilities.

After returning, the students will each give a 10 minute presentation on a state policy proposal that relates to the 36th District. Some of my best legislative ideas have come from student projects!

Applicants should demonstrate strong leadership skills, a strong work ethic and an interest in their state government.

Application Deadline: December 30, 2015
Dates: Sunday, February 14 to Tuesday February 16

You can also read more and watch videos of several introductions of Amundson Fellow introductions on my blog here:

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Coal Ash Water Permit Public Comment Session

Full Room at 12/8/15 DEQ Public Comment Meeting on Dominion Coal Ash
Water Discharge Permit
Tonight, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) hosted their official public comment hearing in Woodbridge.  Over 100 people turned out.

The hearing revolves around Dominion Resources application for a permit to discharge 172 million gallons of water used to store coal ash into Quantico Creek and the Potomac River.

Delegate Scott Lingamfelter and I both provided comments.  Woodbridge Supervisor Frank Principi spoke and communicated that the Prince William County Board of Supervisors passed a unanimous resolution asking for extension of the public comment period.  We also heard from the Mayors of Dumfries and Quantico.  The Mayor of Quantico likewise asked for more time.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Weekly Column: General Assembly Must Address Many Needs

The following is my column that will appear in the Mt. Vernon Gazette, The Mt. Vernon Voice and The Potomac-Stafford Local in the week of December 2, 2015.
General Assembly Must Address Many Needs
At the State Senate annual Finance Retreat two weeks ago, staff updated the State Senate on Virginia's economy, projected revenues and significant budget issues expected during the 2016 session to begin on January 13.  The news is a mixed bag.
First, Virginia’s economy is still struggling.  Thanks to the “Sequester,” large, across-the-board, federal budget cuts, federal spending in Virginia is down by 33 percent over just last year.  That’s $24 billion fewer dollars coming into the Virginia economy.  Not surprisingly, economic growth has been flat statewide.  Twelve percent of homes are still short sales due to stagnant home prices and our predicted economic growth for 2016 is about one-third less than the national rate.